A potential trade between the Wild and Penguins reportedly involving Phil Kessel and Jason Zucker fell apart last week, according to multiple outlets. Now we know why.
Sources confirmed to The Athletic's Michael Russo that Kessel — whose contract holds a modified no-movement clause — is unwilling to accept a trade to Minnesota.
Russo reports that people close to the Penguins winger say among Kessel’s concerns are the Wild’s “recently blown-up roster” and the fact that he doesn’t think Minnesota is anywhere close to contending for a Stanley Cup.
Wild GM Paul Fenton even tried to convince Kessel via a phone conversation, but Kessel was reportedly unwilling to budge.
After inking a shiny new five-year deal worth $5.5 million per season last summer, Zucker has had a tumultuous time in Minnesota as of late. This is the second time in the span of a few months that he’s found out publicly that he was supposed to be shipped out. Calgary reportedly had a deal in place at the deadline to acquire the 27-year-old winger in Calgary, but it fell apart at the last second, per The Athletic.
Fenton hasn’t had a particularly strong stretch recently either, to put it mildly.
The tradings of franchise mainstays Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund in a single month didn’t yield the the type of return they should’ve, and the team faces dark salary cap issues and inflexibility after missing the playoffs this season after three straight first-round exits.
As for the 31-year-old Kessel — who has tasted that sweet nectar of victory twice with the Penguins — rejecting the trade, who could blame him, really?
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