Report: Financial burden makes Phil Kessel to Coyotes highly unlikely

Jun 19, 2018, 1:23 PM
FILE - In this April 26, 2018, file photo, Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Phil Kessel (81) skates w...
FILE - In this April 26, 2018, file photo, Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Phil Kessel (81) skates with the puck during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL second-round hockey playoff series against the Washington Capitals, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

Winger Phil Kessel remains a trade candidate for the Penguins, but The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reports that it appears unlikely the 30-year-old veteran could be dealt to Arizona, a destination that seemed possible if only because of Kessel’s relationship with former Pittsburgh assistant and current Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet.

The reasoning?

Quite simply, Kessel’s contract with an average annual value of $6.8 million for the next four years would submarine the Coyotes’ future financial flexibility.

His preferred destination for a trade, though, appears to be out of the running.

Kessel would be willing to play for the Arizona Coyotes because of his relationship with head coach Rick Tocchet.

However, the Coyotes have informed the Penguins that such a transaction isn’t likely to happen for financial reasons.

Yohe adds that Arizona told Pittsburgh that it intended on sticking around the salary cap floor for the 2018-19 season.

If that’s the case, the Coyotes could have cap space approaching $20 million for the 2018-19 season but have Clayton Keller, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, Christian Fischer and Jakob Chychrun coming off their rookie contracts and approaching restricted free agency over the next two summers.

Kessel is coming off a career-high season in which he scored 92 points. He converted 13 percent of his 261 shots on goal for 34 goals in his 12th NHL season — the fifth in a row in which he’s played a full 82 games in the regular season.

While he could be on the move, Kessel appears a long-shot to be under consideration for the Coyotes — that’s before examining what Arizona would need to or want to send Pittsburgh in a potential trade.

Yohe added that the Penguins and Coyotes were involved in separate discussions regarding wing Max Domi before he was traded by Arizona to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for center Alex Galchenyuk.

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