On the Penguins potentially trading Kessel, I find it interesting Rutherford came out and shot down the rumours today. Generally speaking, I don’t like it when general managers do that. It always feels a little suspicious. People are going to talk either way, so when you specifically address an issue to say it’s bullshit, it can only make people talk more. It never shuts down the rumours. So what’s the point?
As for a trade itself, I personally think it would be stupid for the Penguins to trade Kessel, for a couple reasons. First, the Pens are going to compete for the Cup every year until Crosby and Malkin are gone. They will never be a rebuilding team until that happens, so any trade now has to make the team better. Dumping a guy who’s coming off a 92-point season does not make your team better in any way. You’re going to re-tool your team by trading your second-leading scorer? You’re going to ship out that guy for a “culture change” or whatever bullshit thing you’re calling it this season? Ridiculous. Nothing you get back is going to replace the offense you’re losing.
Cap space is something that gets brought up as a reason for a trade, but for the same reason as above that makes little sense. Having cap space is great, but unless you’re using it to sign Tavares, you’re still not replacing the offense you lost by getting rid of Kessel. You’re actively making your team shittier.
I think the idea that Kessel’s value being as high as it ever will be due to his great season is misleading as well. For one, everybody knows who this guy is at this point. His value is going to be fairly steady until his career starts winding down. Whether he’s putting up 60 points or 90, he is what he is and everybody knows it. Second, the teams that actually have use for him are going to be other contending teams. Which, generally speaking, are usually the most limited in both what assets they can part with, and how much salary they can take on. What do you think Kessel’s going to bring back in a trade? The top prospect from a team that’s drafted in the back half of the first round for the last four years? You’re not getting a real player off the roster, unless it’s one who hasn’t lived up to the hype. A first round pick that ends up being 30 or 31 overall? And how much salary are you going to have to retain? You really want to give up a top-line player for 5 million in cap space and a handful of crappy assets that not only don’t help you, but actually make you a less productive team right now?
Not to mention he has a modified no-trade clause. It doesn’t matter if all 30 other teams make an offer. If they aren’t on his list, he’s not going. And he’s shown in the past he’s willing to play hardball and force a trade to the specific team he wants to go to. If they make him feel unwelcome, like they’re pushing him out, he’s got a huge amount of influence on where he ends up. And if his target is a team with no cap space and shitty prospects, Pittsburgh either gets to shut up and let him stay or accept a crap return for one of their better players. Not ideal.
I could maybe get a little more behind the idea of getting rid of Phil because he’s hard to coach or to shake-up your team if the team situation was a little different, maybe nearly getting there for a couple years but not quite making it. But they’re not. They won with him, He was a major contributor. Yeah, he had a shittier post-season this time. So what? Nobody’s on all the time. And the coach played him with different players. It just seems to stupid to me.
Of course, I could be way off-base. A team could come along and make an offer that actually does make it worth it for the Penguins. Crazy shit happens sometimes. But I don’t see it. In the end, in my eyes, you don’t get rid of an elite player just to shake-up your roster. Especially when your team expects to compete for a Cup for at least the next few years. Unless you’re a bunch of idiots. Guess we’ll find out.
* Just for the record, I have no comment on whether or not I think the trade actually will happen. Teams do dumb shit constantly. I just think it shouldn’t.