Phil Kessel

PHT Morning Skate: Stanley Cup Edition

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Blues win first Stanley Cup by bottling Bruins. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Ryan O’Reilly wins Conn Smythe Trophy. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Berube helped Blues find identity after early-season struggle. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Blues latest team erased from Stanley Cup drought list. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

Zach Sanford keeps late dad’s memory at heart during Stanley Cup win. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Blues finally deliver Stanley Cup to St. Louis.  (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

Jay Bouwmeester finally gets his Stanley Cup. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Bruins, Blues factor into top Game 7 moments in playoff history. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Bruins’ Marchand calls Game 7 loss ‘by far’ worst of career. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Blues fan Laila Anderson gets moment with Stanley Cup. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Blues fans fill Busch Stadium, Enterprise Center for Game 7 watch parties. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• NBA legend Charles Barkley pulling for Blues in Game 7. (NBC Pro Hockey Talk)

• Blues’ worst-to-first, Stanley Cup reversal unlike anything in NHL history. (Sportsnet)

• If Phil Kessel stays in Pittsburgh, who goes? (TSN.ca)

Corey Perry to the Edmonton Oilers? There’s some sense in it. (Edmonton Journal)

•  Cassidy and Berube deserve more credit for getting their teams to Cup final. (Montreal Gazette)

• I don’t really care about hockey. But St. Louis, my city, needed this Stanley Cup run. (Washington Post)

And if you’re interested in watching some videos this morning, we got you covered:

Game Highlights: Link
Pietrangelo Interview: Link

O’Reilly wins Conn Smythe: Link
O’Reilly Interview: Link
Binnington Interview: Link
Blues hoist Cup: Link
Berube Interview: Link
Maroon Interview: Link
Bouwmeester Interview: Link
Tarasenko Interview with family: Link
Parayko celebrates with Laila, interview: Link


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Penguins GM doesn’t expect to trade Kessel

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Maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins won’t trade Phil Kessel during this offseason, after all.

A few weeks ago, reports surfaced that Kessel decided not to waive his no-trade clause to complete a deal to the Minnesota Wild. The added obstacle of such a clause inspired an uncomfortable question: could the Penguins really “win” a trade involving Kessel?

It sounds like Penguins GM Jim Rutherford’s answer might be “No, at least not right now.”

Rutherford touched base with The Athletic’s Josh Yohe on several interesting topics (sub required), including the fact that he doesn’t expect to trade Kessel during the summer. Whether that’s totally Rutherford’s preference, or if it’s merely a reality he must accept, is up to interpretation. This quote makes it clear that the no-trade clause is certainly a factor:

“You have to understand that he has a no-trade clause and a lot of leverage,” Rutherford said. “In situations like this, it usually doesn’t work out so well for the team. That’s just the way it is. So, at this point, it looks to me that he will return at this season. That’s how I’m proceeding moving forward.”

Rutherford makes a point that should be emphasized: the Penguins don’t have to trade Kessel. This isn’t an emergency situation, and considering the context of a no-trade clause backing Pittsburgh into a corner, it’s possible that they’d only make things worse if they actually found at trade Kessel would OK.

Kessel’s 31, which isn’t the absolutely ideal age, but it’s not exactly ancient, either. His $6.8 million cap hit has been quite friendly to the Penguins over the years, and while it is more imposing as he gets older, it’s still a pretty fair price. While the aging curve could make it more of a detriment, it also isn’t the most dire situation, as it expires after 2021-22. Maybe the Penguins would prefer to spend their money on a younger player, but it’s not exactly an albatross.

(And, again, if it starts to really go sideways, at least the term isn’t too brutal. This isn’t a Milan Lucic situation.)

Kessel had exactly a point per game while playing the full 2018-19 regular season (82 in 82), with 27 of those points being goals. He was even more explosive in 2017-18, scoring 34 goals and 92 points in another full season, and Kessel’s been electric during the playoffs.

There aren’t a lot of Kessels out there: reasonably priced players who suit up for virtually every game, while delivering precious goals and impressive playoff production. You’re even less likely to find that sort of player at a reasonable $6.8M cap hit.

Now, it’s also true that Kessel is starting to show signs of age-related decline, and the once-excessive criticisms of his defensive work are now more valid. There’s more of a debate regarding whether Kessel brings more to the table than he takes away than ever before, or at least that debate’s become credible, rather than an obnoxious way to scapegoat a person who marches to the beat of their own drum.

There’s also the stuff that doesn’t show up on charts. If Kessel isn’t getting along with head coach Mike Sullivan or his teammates, that’s not ideal.

Yet, it’s also true that sports teams often succeed even when everyone isn’t best buddies.

If a Kessel trade can’t happen, it’s not ideal, but it’s also not the end of the world for the Penguins. For all we know, that clause might just protect the Penguins from themselves. After all, they haven’t exactly been making the best decisions lately.

Plenty of other decisions

Again, the Penguins didn’t get swept by the Islanders because of Kessel.

This team has other problems, and other choices to make, so it was interesting to read Rutherford’s other comments to Yohe.

  • Rutherford shot down talk of trading Evgeni Malkin, which is probably the most important point of all. You’re … probably not going to win a trade involving Malkin if you’re the Penguins.
  • Rutherford was noncommittal when it came to possibly extending Matt Murray and Justin Schultz, while giving a similar answer regarding Mike Sullivan. All three are set to enter contract years.

Murray is an especially interesting consideration. The Penguins were able to extend Murray in 2016 after he won the first of two Stanley Cups as a rookie. Pittsburgh did a nice job walking a tightrope, inking Murray for an economical $3.75M per year cap hit, even though he just won that Cup, in part because Marc-Andre Fleury was still on the roster. Then, MAF was gone to Vegas in the expansion draft after the Penguins’ repeat, and Pittsburgh still had a starter at a friendly price.

Injuries have lowered Murray’s value, and his perceived standing in the league, but maybe that context would allow Pittsburgh to extend him once more on a team-friendly contract?

Rutherford indicated that he has bigger fish to fry, what with trying to clear up some cap space and sign some RFAs, and that’s fair. Still, if I were Rutherford, I’d certainly try to line something up before 2019-20. As Rutherford mentioned, Murray went on a hot streak toward the end of last season, and could easily make his value skyrocket if he’s a) healthy and b) productive next season.

The 25-year-old is still set for RFA status after his current deal expires, which is another point in favor of the Penguins doing a great job with that deal. It’s plausible that the Penguins might get a relative bargain if they’re proactive here, and when you consider their cap challenges, getting a high-quality, prime-age goalie at a below-market rate is pretty crucial.

  • Again, Rutherford rightly said he wants to clear up cap space.

The dream would be to shed Jack Johnson‘s contract, which was baffling the day it was signed, and only looks more ill-advised today.

The Penguins should consider other painful choices, and one that sticks out is Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist is a very nice player, when he can stay on the ice. Unfortunately, his hard-nosed style makes that challenging, and it’s only likely to become more of a challenge as time goes on. At 32, Hornqvist’s $5.3M through 2022-23 is pretty scary, particularly since he has to go to dirty areas to score, whereas players like Kessel are better able to produce while also limiting their vulnerability to injuries.

So, overall, the Penguins are reasonable in not trying to force a Kessel trade, at least not while he’s not on board. Trading other players, however, would likely be wise — and probably necessary.

MORE ON KESSEL, PENGUINS

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Preds shouldn’t bring back Simmonds; Who will Rangers buy out?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Dallas Stars signed Mattias Janmark to a one-year contract extension. (NHL.com/Stars)

• The Stars also brought back Roman Polak on a one-year deal. (NHL.com/Stars)

• Preds GM David Poile acquired Wayne Simmonds at the trade deadline, but he shouldn’t re-sign him. (Predlines)

• Trading Jesse Puljujarvi makes no sense for the Edmonton Oilers right now. (Oilers Nation)

• It’s time for the Winnipeg Jets to give Jack Roslovic a shot to be a bigger part of their roster. (Winnipeg Free Press)

• Sinbin.Vegas breaks down how the Golden Knights will likely hand out some ice time next season. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• Over the last few years, teams have avoided drafting goaltenders early. (Flames Nation)

• The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly interested in acquiring Wild forward Jason Zucker. (Vancouver Province)

• Despite the controversial call in Game 5, you won’t find a Blues fan that feels sorry for the Bruins. (St. Louis Game-Time)

• Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman isn’t interested in building a team through free agency. (NHL.com)

• Will the Rangers buy out Marc Staal and Brendan Smith? (Blue Shirt Banter)

• Even though they don’t have much cap space, the Leafs should totally go after Dougie Hamilton. (Pension Plan Puppets)

• Is Phil Kessel overrated? Raw Charge says there are new metrics that suggest he might be. (Raw Charge)

Vladimir Tarasenko knew he needed to do more in order for the Blues to win the Stanley Cup. (Sportsnet)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Takeaways from combine; Boring Marchand

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• A lot went wrong for the Anaheim Ducks in 2018-19, but Rotoworld.com’s Ryan Dadoun dug a little deeper. (Rotoworld)

• There’s just not slowing down Tuukka Rask in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (The Hockey News)

• Here are 10 takeaways from the 2019 NHL Draft Combine. (Sportsnet)

• A specific moment in Game 3 showed another problem with offside reviews the NHL will have to look at. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

• Has Brad Marchand become boring? (WEEI)

Marcus Johansson‘s price tag on his next contract just keeps on climbing. (NBC Sports Washington)

• Should the Flyers submit an offer sheet to restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk? (Broad Street Hockey)

• Why aren’t the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final? Here are five reasons. (Tampa Bay Times)

• Now that Nikita Zaitsev wants out of Toronto, what does that mean for the rest of the group? (Toronto Star)

• Find out why draft history isn’t on the side of Jack Hughes or the New Jersey Devils. (New York Post)

• It’s been a long time since the St. Louis Blues have hosted a game in the Stanley Cup Final. A lot has happened since then. (St. Louis Game-Time)

David Perron deserves to be made a healthy scratch, per Bleedin’ Blue blog. (Bleedin’ Blue)

• Craig Berube doesn’t agree with a lot of the calls made against his team in the Stanley Cup Final. (ESPN)

• Tuukka Rask has had some goofy interviews with Finnish media. (Sportsnet)

• The perfection line kicked into gear for the Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. (NBC Sports Boston)

• The NHL Draft really starts when the Los Angeles Kings pick at no. 5. (The Score)

• Rick Bowness could be an intriguing option to be the next head coach for the Anaheim Ducks. (Anaheim Calling)

• The Maple Leafs and Kings have reportedly discussed a trade involving Patrick Marleau. (Leafs Nation)

• Here’s how a Punjabi hockey announcer is changing hockey. (Deadspin)

• The chance to be with a hockey team day-to-day was too much of a thrill for Dave Tippett to pass up. (Seattle Times)

• After leaving the Buffalo Sabres in December, Patrik Berglund says he’ll play hockey next year. (Yahoo)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Defense the story in Cup Final; Leafs trying to move Zaitsev

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The big story so far in the Stanley Cup Final? Defense, of course. (TSN)

• The Bruins want to be able to deliver hits themselves so they are mostly indifferent to the Oskar Sundqvist suspension. (WEEI)

• Boston sports fans have not always been spoiled with dynasties. (Sports Illustrated)

Carl Gunnarsson‘s overtime goal was a good reminder that the Blues are not a team that is just going to roll over. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Vladimir Tarasenko is quietly staying the St. Louis Blues’ best. (Bleedin’ Blue)

• How the Blues and Bruins can take control of the Stanley Cup Final. (Sportsnet)

• After a difficult season the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to move defender Nikita Zaitsev. (The Leafs Nation)

• Former Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings coach Willie Desjardins is becoming the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers. (Medicine Hat News)

• The Colorado Avalanche should look into making a Phil Kessel trade. (Mile High Hockey)

• NWHL expansion is in jeopardy. (The Ice Garden)

• Comparing the Seattle expansion timeline to the Vegas expansion timeline. (NHL To Seattle)

• How the New Jersey Devils are utilizing the NHL scouting combine. (New Jersey Devils)

• Rethinking the NHL scouting combine. (Faceoff Circle)

• The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed defender Jusso Riikola. (Pensburgh)

• Would a Jason Zucker for Adam Henrique trade be something that could work? (Anaheim Calling)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.