Phil Kessel or Clayton Keller Could be Traded Next by Arizona Coyotes

Phil Kessel
OTTAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 13: Arizona Coyotes Right Wing Phil Kessel (81) skates with eyes on the play during third period National Hockey League action between the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators on February 13, 2020, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As new Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong surveys his options to improve his team, is he really considering trading veteran winger Phil Kessel? Has he considered even dealing Clayton Keller as well? These days it seems only Jakob Chychrun is safe… and even his name has come up in unsubstantiated rumors.

Phil Kessel or Clayton Keller May be Traded By Arizona Coyotes

It’s no secret that that the Arizona Coyotes have gone into a full rebuild mode of late. They traded away some key players on their roster. That includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Conor Garland who both went to the Vancouver Canucks recently.

Then, Darcy Kuemper, their starting goalie was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche. In both major trades the crafty Armstrong got valuable draft picks for the future. He’s got the team’s potential in mind and realizes that this season, plus maybe one or two more will be less that successful.

That’s what rebuilds are like. Another key player dealt to the Montreal Canadiens was forward Christian Dvorak. Dvo was a consummate, hard working 200′ forward but it was decided it was time to move him as well.

Trade Return For Phil Kessel May be Marginal

Kessel, who will turn 34 on October 2nd, has been playing NHL hockey for 15 years. He also has an “iron man” consecutive game streak of 981 games. Phil has won two back-to-back Stanley Cups with he Pittsburgh Penguins.

Most experts think Kessel could help a team who lacks some scoring since he tallied 20 goals in 56 games last season. Even the Vegas Golden Knights may consider a trade for Kessel. He’s not the best defender, but he knows how to put the puck in the net.

If a team approaches Armstrong with a trade proposal, it may only be for a third or fourth round pick, and perhaps a prospect. Even though Kessel is in the last year of an $8 million contract, the Coyotes are only on the hook for $6.8 million, since the Toronto Maple Leafs retained the remainder. It gets even better since Kessel’s $5 million bonus has already been paid. That means a team could pick him up for less that $1 million.

He could become an attractive trade candidate either before the season starts or at the trade deadline. It would add another $6.8 million of valuable cap space to the Coyotes ledger. They sit at about $12 million of cap space presently.

Clayton Keller May be Difficult to Trade

The former GM of the Coyotes, John Chayka decided to gift a young player like Keller an outrageous contract of $57.2 million for eight years. This was a yet unproven player although he did have an excellent first season. He tallied 23 goals and 65 points in 82 games. The thing is, that has been his best season thus far. Last season, the first of his new lucrative contract, saw him only gather 14 goals and 35 points in 56 games. Hardly worth $7.15 million, wouldn’t you say?

So the likelihood of Keller being traded remains remote unless a club came to Armstrong with a really sweet deal. He more than likely will remain with the team and may be moved back to his regular position at center-ice. This is especially true since Dvorak is gone. Keller must really shine to deserve that hefty contract. We’ll see.

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