No Better Than 50-50 Odds Phil Kessel Remains A Pittsburgh Penguin

The Athletic's Scott Burnside on a potential Kessel trade, Pens offseason

The Fan Morning Show
May 29, 2019 - 11:40 am
Phil Kessel denied vs. Islanders

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- It was reported last week that the Penguins and Wild were close to a deal that would send Phil Kessel and Jack Johnson to Minnesota. 

It has since been reported that Kessel has used his "no trade" powers to nix that deal, keeping him in Pittsburgh. 

For now. 

Related: Jay Caufield On Penguins Off-Season, NHL Playoffs

National NHL writer Scott Burnside of The Athletic joined The Fan Morning Show Wednesday to talk about Kessel and the trade rumors swirling around him. 

"I would say no better odds than 50-50 that he will be (still a Penguin at or before the NHL Draft this year). This isn't about, 'is Phil Kessel no longer a good player?' That's not what this is about. I thought [GM Jim Rutherford's] comments after the sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders were very pointed that this is a team that maybe looked a little satisfied.

[They] didn't adjust well to the adversity in the first round, didn't respond in the way that they should have when the Islanders threw up the way they defend and how structured they are. They weren't able to respond to that so that means there has to be changes. In a salary cap world, that sometimes means moving significant pieces. We saw it with the Chicago Blackhawks after they won their first Cup in 2010. It is life in the NHL. 

I think in some ways Phil Kessel is expendable because he's an attractive asset to teams that need scoring. I'm not sure that he fits the style that Mike Sullivan likes his team to play. His defensive responsibility, sometimes that counter-balances what he brings offensively. Five on five last season, there was a long period of time where he wasn't very productive."

Make no mistake though, the Penguins are not desperate to offload Kessel. 

"They're not going to give him away. This is not a situation like a Milan Lucic in Edmonton where the contract is so onerous that you have to escape from it. That's not what we're talking about here.

It's about, 'Ok, how do we make our team better, how do we make the appropriate changes to get back on top and take advantage of some of the best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin." 

You can listen to the entire interview with Scott Burnside, including his thoughts on the rest of the Penguins' offseason, on The Fan Morning Show below.                      

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