The Pittsburgh Penguins have finally made the blockbuster trade the hockey world has been waiting for. Star winger and two-time Stanley Cup champion Phil Kessel will pack his bags to join the Arizona Coyotes.
The Penguins will send a fourth-round pick and prospect Dane Birks along with Kessel in exchange for forward Alex Galchenyuk and prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Birks, a 23-year-old defenseman, spent the 2018-19 campaign with ECHL Wheeling and was a sixth-round pick in 2013. Meanwhile, Joseph was a 2017 first-round selection, though he has yet to advance past the QMJHL.
Kessel has been one of the best wingers in the NHL for years during his time with Pittsburgh and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over the last two seasons, he’s racked up 61 goals and 174 points, good for 13th in the league. The 31-year-old carried a $6.8 million cap hit through the 2021-22 season, so Pittsburgh will have some more cap space to work with over the next few offseasons.
Galchenyuk scored just 19 goals and 41 points last season, his lowest point total since notching 31 points during the 2013-14 campaign with the Montreal Canadiens. The 25-year-old forward is set to make $4.9 million during the 2019-20 season and will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
The team is undoubtedly worse at present after this deal but they now have a bit more cap room to work with this offseason and plenty more over the next few years. If blue line prospect Joseph can live up to his first-round expectations, Pittsburgh will be much happier with this deal down the road.