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.
“Phil Kessel is a proven winner, an elite goal scorer and one of the most productive point producers in the NHL for a sustained period of time,” Coyotes president of hockey operations and general manager John Chayka said in a statement. “His dynamic scoring ability fits a specific need for this team and instantly elevates us to another level.”
The 31-year-old Kessel, who vetoed a trade to the Minnesota Wild last month, is coming off a season in which he had 27 goals and 82 points on the heels of a career-best 92-point campaign (34 goals) the prior year. He also scored a career-high and league-high 10 game-winning goals and tied his career-high with 12 power-play goals last year.
For his career, the three-time All-Star has recorded 357 goals, 466 assists and 823 points in 996 NHL games with the Penguins (2015-19), Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-15) and Boston Bruins (2006-09). He has played in 774 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak in the NHL.
Kessell has three years remaining on his contract, with a $6.8 million cap hit in each season.
The deal reunites Kessel with Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, who was an assistant coach with the Penguins from 2014-2017. The two were together when Pittsburgh won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017.
“First and foremost, I want to thank Phil Kessel for his contributions to the Penguins. He was a key component to our success in winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. We couldn’t have done it without him, and for that, we are grateful,” said Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford in a statement. “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.”
The 25-year-old Galchenyuk, whose contract carries an average annual value of $4.9 million and expires next summer, recorded 19 goals and 41 points in 72 games last season, eclipsing the 40-point plateau for the fifth consecutive campaign. He led all Coyotes in his lone season with Arizona in goals (19, tied) and power-play goals (nine), while his 41 points were third-best on the team.
Galchenyuk spent the first six years of his career with the Montreal Canadiens, where he tallied 255 points (108 goals) in 418 games.
Drafted by Arizona in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Joseph just completed his fourth year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) split between the Charlottetown Islanders and Drummondville Voltiguers, compiling 47 points (nine goals) and a plus-36 rating in 62 games.
Pierre-Olivier is the brother of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph, who just completed his rookie season in the NHL.
The 23-year-old Birks recorded one goal and 14 points in 65 games with Wheeling (ECHL) and played in one game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season.
–Field Level Media