The Pittsburgh Penguins have dealt right wing Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes, who are getting a fourth-round pick and defenseman Dane Birks in the deal, are sending center Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph, the team announced Saturday.
After being swept by the New York Islanders in the first round of the playoffs this past season, the Penguins have been looking to get younger and faster around star Sidney Crosby. They recently traded defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for young forward Dominik Kahun.
Kessel, 31, is coming off a season in which he had 27 goals and 82 points, but he has a reputation for not being nearly as good defensively. He had 34 goals and a career-best 92 points the season before. The three-time All-Star has not missed a game in nine seasons.
"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,'' Arizona general manager John Chayka said. "His dynamic scoring ability fits a specific need for this team and instantly elevates us to another level.''
Kessel has three years remaining on an eight-year deal, originally signed with Toronto, that carries a cap hit of $6.8 million per season.
He joins a Coyotes team that missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.
"I'm just coming in to do what I do best and help them win as many games as possible," Kessel said of the Coyotes. "They're an up-and-coming team with a lot of great pieces. I'm coming in to help them take the next step."
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and Kessel were very much in disagreement on his alleged trade requests out of Pittsburgh. Rutherford said Saturday that Kessel asked to be traded numerous times but changed his mind. Kessel didn't agree with that statement.
"I'm not sure that's exactly what happened," Kessel said. "Jim came to me, one time, and said to me that I'll never be a Penguin again. I think he's mistaken a little bit there. But I'm not here to tell what really happened and the real truth. So whatever Jim wants to say."
Rutherford recently confirmed that Kessel, who had a no-trade clause as part of his contract, earlier vetoed a trade that would have sent him to the Minnesota Wild.
"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,'' Rutherford said Saturday. "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.''
Galchenyuk had 19 goals and 22 assists in 72 games last season, his first in Arizona after six years with the Canadiens. Joseph and Birks have yet to play in the NHL.