Ever since the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the second-round of the playoffs against the Washington Capitals, general manager Jim Rutherford claimed on locker clean out day that he is going to make changes to the roster for the 2018-2019 season. Rutherford already knows who those players will be, but the fans don't.
Phil Kessel's name has been thrown out there in trade talks over the past couple of weeks. There has been an apparent rift between Kessel and head coach Mike Sullivan. I find it hard to believe because Kessel was playing hurt during the postseason and he led the Penguins in points during the regular season.
Phil Kessel played in all 82 games during the regular season and he hasn't missed a game since the 2009-2010 season. Kessel scored 34 goals and recorded 58 assists. His plus/minus was -4. He scored one goal and recorded eight assists during the postseason. His plus/minus was -5.
Kessel was one of the reasons why the Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups. With everything that Kessel has done the past three seasons, are they going to trade him this offseason?
He has three years left on his contract and Kessel is owed $6.8 million each season. The Pittsburgh Penguins feel like they could get a boat load in return for him. They shouldn't trade him, but they probably will because it is a business after all.
What teams will Kessel go to? The first team that comes to mind is the Los Angeles Kings. They are really interested in him and the Kings need another offensive machine in the worst way. With the Kings making it to the postseason in 2017-2018 under a new head coach, they feel like they are ready to make another run now.
The second team that comes to mind is the New York Islanders. Even if John Tavares isn't signed, Lou Lamoriello will have a plan to acquire a player like Phil Kessel. Even though the Islanders didn't make the playoffs the past two seasons, they have some assets they could trade. This could possibly be Mathew Barzal's team next season and bringing in Kessel would open up the ice for Barzal.
The third team that comes to mind is the Chicago Blackhawks. Even though the Blackhawks missed the playoffs and don't have a lot of prospects to trade, they will be in the win now approach and Chicago is missing a veteran like Phil Kessel. Will see if Marian Hossa even returns for the Blackhawks in 2018-2019 after missing the entire 2017-2018 season with a skin issue. Chicago could very well trade Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad for him.
The fourth team that comes to mind is the New Jersey Devils. They have tons of prospects and draft picks and New Jersey is a team on the rise in a hurry. Having a possible first line of Taylor Hall- Nico Hischier-Phil Kessel could be scary. The odds are Kessel would be a second liner with having already Kyle Palmieri on the first line.
The fifth team that comes to mind is the Boston Bruins. I know this is a crazy idea because Kessel started his career with the Boston Bruins, but he wouldn't mind going back to Boston either. The Bruins also have the assets to acquire him, but that means they will have a shorter championship window because their core players are also older in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Zdeno Chara.
The sixth option could be that Jim Rutherford decides not to trade him and waits until next summer to get a trade done.