According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, it's a matter matter of "when" not "if" Kessel will be traded by the Penguins. According to LeBrun, Minnesota has emerged as a frontrunner to land Kessel early on, but the American winger would need to waive his no-trade clause in order for that deal to come to fruition. It was clear that the Penguins would likely be looking to shake up their roster after being swept by the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs this year, but it's still a little surprising to see them so eager to move a player that just racked up 27 goals and 82 points in 82 contests.
Kessel may have played his last game with the Penguins, reports Rob Rossi of The Athletic. Changes need to be made in Pittsburgh and Sid the Kid and Evgeni Malkin are likely the only untouchables. Matt Murray and Jake Guentzel might be, too. Kessel won two Cups with the flightless birds, scoring 18 goals and 45 points in 49 games those two years. But the last two playoff years, he has managed just 11 points in 15 games. And just two of those were goals. Kessel's contract allows him to submit a list of eight teams where he could be traded. At $8 million a year and 31 years of age, Kessel could be hard to move. But Arizona could be an option because of the Rick Tocchet connection. He's durable and has notched 110 goals and 303 points in 328 regular-season games with the Pens. This offseason should be very interesting.
Kessel scored a goal at even strength and added a power-play assist during Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders in Game 1 of their first-round series. He opened the scoring for the Pens early in the first period, then set up Evgeni Malkin in the second to tie the score at 2-2. Kessel has thrived in the postseason spotlight in his career, racking up 33 goals and 77 points in 84 games, and the 31-year-old is off to another quick start in this series.
Kessel scored two goals and added an assist Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Red Wings. One of the goals came at even strength; the rest of the points were on the power play. Kessel has 82 points in 81 games. Last season's 92 points were an outlier. This season's 82 points align with Kessel's best prior to last year. He should be a solid playoff performer for those in postseason pools.
Kessel scored the Penguins' only goal in a 4-1 loss to the Red Wings on Tuesday. Before Tuesday, Kessel had not scored a goal at even strength since Jan. 30. In the last 29 games prior to Tuesday, he had only three goals and all of them came on the power play. It's been a disappointing season for Kessel in the goal and plus-minus categories, but because of 54 assists, Kessel is still only a point shy of posting back-to-back 80-point campaigns for the first time in his career. He has 25 goals and 79 points in 80 games this season.
Last 7 Games
|3 Year Avg||82||28||46||74||3||8||1||5||4||9||201.2|