The three-time All-Star forward is at the center of trade talks between the Penguins and Minnesota Wild, The Athletic's Josh Yohe reported Thursday. Michael Russo, also of The Athletic, reported earlier in the week that Kessel was a potential trade target of the Wild, and now Yohe says a proposal between the two teams is already on the table -- and has been for days.
"It's a poorly kept secret around the NHL that Kessel, who produced 82 points in 82 games last season, is available," Yohe reported. "It is believed the only holdup at this time is Kessel, who has the right to veto the trade."
Despite being a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, where he's logged 110 goals and 303 points since arriving via trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kessel has long been a speculated trade chip, with The Athletic's Rob Rossi suggesting the Penguins explored moving the veteran winger before the 2018-19 season, when Kessel still had four seasons remaining on his contract. While he's been durable and productive, helping the Pens capture back-to-back Stanley Cups alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in 2016-2017, "his enigmatic nature has irritated coaching staffs and front offices in Boston, Toronto and Pittsburgh," according to Yohe.
Kessel also has final say over if and where he gets dealt, assuming the Penguins are, in fact, ready to part ways with him. As Yohe noted, the forward's limited no-trade clause allows him to dictate only eight teams he can be traded to -- and it appears he's undecided on playing in Minnesota, researching the state, plus the Wild, this week but failing to come to a conclusion, per Yohe.
Kessel might not be only big name moved if a Penguins-Wild deal comes to fruition, either.
The Athletic noted this week that Minnesota general manager Paul Fenton hopes to make "significant noise" this offseason after the Wild missed the playoffs in 2018-19, and that apparently has meant dangling former 30-goal scorer Jason Zucker, who is believed to be part of a proposed package for Kessel, according to Yohe. The two teams reportedly also discussed including veterans like Jack Johnson and Victor Rask in a deal, with the Wild "actively shopping" Zucker to other teams as well.