After months of speculation, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally dealt veteran Phil Kessel on Saturday, sending the forward to the Arizona Coyotes along with defenseman Dane Birks and a 2021 fourth-round pick for forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Said Rutherford: "I can't say enough good things about him, and I like him personally, but it was just time to make a change with him".
Kessel has three years remaining on an eight-year deal, originally signed with Toronto, that carries a cap hit of $6.8 million per season.
Kessel has scored at least 30 goals six times during a 13-year National Hockey League career that includes stints with Boston and Toronto.
Leaving that dispute aside, Kessel said he enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh, and Rutherford thanked him for his contributions to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17.
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"I'm just coming in to do what I do best and try to help the team win as many games as possible", Kessel said. He scored eight goals and 15 assists the next spring as the Penguins became the first team in almost two decades to win back-to-back titles. Drafted third overall by the Habs in 2012, he played seven seasons in Montreal before being dealt to Arizona for Max Domi last June.
And hey, I promise I'll delve deeply into why I appreciate this move in a bit.
"Toch knows him extremely well and coached him and he knows exactly what he's getting with Phil, and Phil knows exactly what he's getting with Toch", Chayka said. "I'll never be a Penguin again, '" Kessel said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jonathan Bombulie. Galchenyuk is also considerably cheaper than Kessel.
As Rutherford worded it with class, "He was a key component to our success in winning back-to-back Stanley Cups". He had 34 goals and a career-best 92 points the season before.
"Now, at least it gives us a chance of looking at somebody, and we do have a couple of players in mind, if we're one of the fortunate teams once we get there and we'd like to add somebody", Rutherford said. "With that being said, we are excited to welcome a young, skilled player in Alex, and add depth to our defense with first-round draft pick Pierre-Olivier Joseph".