When Sportsnet.ca hockey insider Elliotte Friedman mentioned that the Nashville Predators were one of the teams interested in Phil Kessel, it came as a surprise. After all, other teams such as the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Colorado Avalanche, and Minnesota Wild seemed like the frontrunners.
Phil Kessel Will be a Free Agent
The Arizona Coyotes tried their best to oblige Phil Kessel’s trade request. Yet in the end, not retaining part of his $6.8 million cap hit had discouraged any team from trading for him. The Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong used the last remaining salary retention when he traded Johan Larsson to the Washington Capitals at the trade deadline of March 21st.
See, Kessel wants a shot at one more championship ring. And he as well every NHL fan on the planet, knew it wasn’t going to happen in Arizona. Kessel’s production has decreased significantly to the point that he wasn’t easy to move especially due to his large contract. Now that he didn’t get traded, he will be free to sign with any team that isn’t on his no-trade list.
Nashville’s Interest in Kessel
While Kessel’s goal production only shows seven red lights turned on this season, he still has tallied 43 points in 70 games. That would place him sixth on the Predators’ squad in scoring. And, don’t forget the guy just DOESN’T miss games. He has now surpassed Keith Yandle in his hunt to be the ironman of the NHL.
Perhaps most teams would love to have the stats Kessel exhibited last season when he netted 20 goals in 56 games due to the pandemic shortened season. For whatever reason, (call it playing on a really mediocre team) his goals just haven’t come this season. That of course does not mean he can’t still put up the numbers he has in the past… with the right linemates.
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How Phil Kessel May Fit in With Nashville
The Predators lack scoring from the right-wing and have an abundance of centers on their roster. Phil could supplement some offensive firepower to help with that. If he will accept a lower salary (think WAY lower), he could sign with the Preds. See, the Nashville team will need to determine how to pay Filip Forsberg a king’s ransom. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer too. The bidding to sign Forsberg may begin at the $8 million mark.
If Kessel wants to join the Preds, he will need to lower his salary expectations considerably. If he came down to the $2-$3 million range, he may get a one or two-year deal done. He definitely could help the Predators who rank ninth in scoring at this writing. If Kessel could regain his power-play prowess, he also could add to their excellent 25 percent success on the man advantage.
Is Kessel a defensive liability? Of course. But he is skilled at puck possession and especially at carrying the puck into the offensive end. He has shown this season that he can be a playmaker too with 36 assists.
Kessel can still sign with any team he chooses, so it will be intriguing to see where he finally lands. He is a guy that his teammates love playing with and is a professional who shows up every game ready to go to battle. Some team will recognize his abilities and sign him.
Could it be Nashville?
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