Report: Kessel nixed trade to Wild due to belief team won't contend
Penguins forward Phil Kessel, who owns an eight-team "yes" trade list, nixed a deal that would've sent him to the Wild, sources confirmed to The Athletic's Michael Russo. The veteran sniper apparently has a couple of concerns about playing for Minnesota - the biggest one being his belief that the club isn't close to contending for a Stanley Cup, several people close to Kessel told Russo.
Moreover, Kessel is concerned about who would get him the puck, and wasn't swayed by a phone conversation with Wild general manager Paul Fenton - who tried talking up the team's young players - sources told Russo.
Kessel is coming off a productive 82-point season and has three years remaining on his contract with a $6.8-million cap hit.
The 32-year-old has ties to Minnesota. He grew up in nearby Madison, Wis., and played one year at the University of Minnesota before turning pro.
However, the Wild finished last in the Central Divison this past season, ending their six-year playoff streak in the first year under Fenton. The new GM wasted little time putting his fingerprints on the roster, trading away Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Charlie Coyle - all of whom were considered core players by the previous regime.
Jason Zucker, who signed five-year, $27.5-million extension with the Wild last summer, was reportedly the main part of the package heading to Pittsburgh in exchange for Kessel before the trade fell through. Zucker has a 10-team no-trade list that kicks in on July 1.
This wasn't the first time Fenton came close to dealing Zucker. At the trade deadline, a deal to send the 27-year-old forward to the Calgary Flames reportedly fell through.
The Penguins and Flames don't appear to be giving up on their hopes of landing the former 30-goal scorer, though. They're both among a list of teams - joined by the Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, and Anaheim Ducks - that are interested in Zucker, sources told Russo.
In Zucker talks, the Wild have inquired about Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer in Arizona, Sam Bennett and Michael Frolik in Calgary, and Jonathan Marchessault with the Vegas Golden Knights, according to Russo.
Zucker tallied 21 goals and 21 assists in 2018-19, but his shooting percentage dropped over 5 points from his previous 33-goal campaign.