As per a report by Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, a Phil Kessel trade out of the Arizona Coyotes organization isn’t a matter if, but when. While Kessel has received praise from GM Bill Armstrong for his work ethic, the Coyotes know they won’t be winning, they know they won’t be retaining Kessel past this season and they know he can fetch them a draft pick — of which they are stockpiling — despite his having a down season.
Seravalli writes, “He’s on pace for the lowest goal output of his career (12). Could a trade potentially rekindle some of the Kessel playoff magic that nearly netted him a Conn Smythe Trophy?” Noting that the team is looking to add draft selections, the NHL insider adds, “There’s no way they’ll hang onto him.”
He notes that the acquiring team will recognize that Kessel costs mere pennies in actual dollars, since his salary this season is just $850,000 ($150,000 paid by Leafs). That means the team that adds Kessel only has to pay around $250,000 in cash plus the acquisition cost to roll the dice on the winger. Remember, this is a forward with a proven track record of winning, showing up in big games, and producing in the playoffs.
Kessel is 34, so there is some risk in a trade. This could be the time that he finally starts to decline on a steady and consistent basis. If so, his low costs versus the $6.8 million he takes up on a team’s salary cap might be a tough trade-off for some clubs. The Coyotes will almost certainly be retaining 50% of his salary if (or when) traded.
How Many Teams Look at Kessel?
As the playoffs start to become a possibility for some teams, it will be intriguing to see how often Kessel’s name pops up. He’s got a few months to start producing again and if he gets hot, expect there to be a number of interested teams. That, plus how much Arizona is willing to retain could dictate how big the market is for this player.
Think about it this way… if there are as many teams interested in Evander Kane as are rumored to be if the Sharks retain 50% of the winger’s salary, imagine what the market might be like for Kessel, whose only real hit to reputation is that he doesn’t look like he works terribly hard.
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