Phil Kessel is heading to the desert.
The Pittsburgh Penguins agreed to trade Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. In exchange for Kessel, prospect Dane Birks and a fourth round pick, the Penguins will receive forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
The deal reunites Kessel, 31, with Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, who was an assistant coach with the Penguins from 2014-2017. Kessel and Tocchet share a strong relationship and Tocchet's mentorship helped Kessel become an integral piece of the Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017. Their relationship is likely a big reason why Kessel, who had a limited no-trade clause, was willing to go to the Coyotes.
In 82 games for the Penguins last season, Kessel had 27 goals and 55 assists, making him a point-per-game player on the year. He has three years remaining on his current contract, which carries an AAV of $8 million. (The Coyotes will only be responsible for $6.8 of that hit, as the Toronto Maple Leafs still cover $1.2 million from the 2015 trade that sent him to Pittsburgh.)
In exchange for Kessel, the Pittsburgh will receive Galchenyuk, a 25-year-old forward who has struggled to find consistency and meet expectations throughout his career thus far. After being selected with the third overall pick in 2012, Galchenyuk spent the first six years of his career in Montreal before arriving in Arizona via trade last summer.
Galchenyuk didn't exactly revitalize his game or find increased production with the Coyotes, recording 41 points (19-22-41) in 72 games last season. He also struggled defensively, finishing the season as a minus-19 and with a 39 percent goal share at 5-on-5, second-worst among Arizona forwards with more than 20 games played.
Galchenyuk has one year left on his deal with a cap hit of $4.9M and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Joseph, 19, is a defensive prospect who was selected 23rd overall by the Coyotes in 2017. He's still playing juniors and has yet to crack the NHL.
The deal frees up $1.9 million in cap space for the Penguins to utilize in free agency, bringing their total available cap space to just over $5 million.