|Photo from CBS|
The Arizona Coyotes have acquired F Phil Kessel, D Dane Birks and a 4th round pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for F Alex Galchenyuk and D Pierre-Oliver Joseph.
Kessel is an elite scorer. He has averaged a point a game for two consecutive seasons, and has scored 20 goals in every year since 2008-09, when he scored 36 goals as a 21 year old. He won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh, but the team was looking to move on. An article from the Athletic stated that Kessel has issues with coach Mike Sullivan, and Evgeni Malkin didn\’t want Kessel on his line. Kessel reportedly blocked a trade to Minnesota earlier this offseason, but will take the opportunity to play under former Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet in Arizona. In return, the Penguins get Galchenyuk, who didn\’t adjust to well in Arizona, missing 20 goals for the third straight season, and putting up his lowest point total since he was 19 in 2013-14. Playing with better players (and being healthier) will get that goal total near 30, where it was in 2015-16. Galchenyuk is still young, but is a year away from unrestricted free agency. Joseph was drafted 23rd overall by the Coyotes in 2017. He is a defenseman, unlike his brother Mathieu, who plays on the Lightning. Not a terrible haul for Kessel. They also free cap space.
Galchenyuk, 25, scored 19 goals with 22 assists for 41 points in 72 games for the Coyotes this past season, his only with the team. In his NHL career for the Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens, Galchenyuk has scored 127 goals with 169 assists for 296 points in 490 games.
Joseph, who turns 20 in two days, scored two goals with 20 assists for 22 points in 35 games for the QMJHL\’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. In five QMJHL seasons for the Voltigeurs and Charlottetown Islanders, Joseph has scored 29 goals with 111 assists for 140 points in 235 games.
The Coyotes could use some scoring, and Kessel instantly becomes their best forward. And their highest paid forward. He has a $6.8 million AAV, higher than Derek Stepan\’s $6.5 million. The Coyotes missed the playoffs last year, but have one of the tightest cap situations in the league. This trade brings them down to just over $1.8 million in cap space, second least in the league (Vegas). But, Kessel does have three more years left, and would get much more money if he was a free agent now. They get a 4th and Birks, an ECHL defenseman that was a 6th round pick in 2013.
Kessel, 31, scored 27 goals with 55 assists for 82 points in 82 games for the Penguins in 2018-19. In his NHL career for the Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, Kessel has scored 357 goals with 466 assists for 823 points in 996 games.
Birks, 23, scored one goal with 13 assists for 14 points in 65 games for the ECHL\’s Wheeling Nailers. He also didn\’t score in one game for AHL Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.