A consistent goal scorer is something the Nashville Predators desperately need, and with his name being thrown around in some trade rumors, Phil Kessel may fit that hole perfectly.
Phil Kessel is a guy who can shoot the puck extremely well, scoring at least 30 goals in six of his 13 seasons. The Nashville Predators are a team that needs goal scoring, especially on the power play. Essentially, this is a perfect fit.
Kessel nixed a trade earlier this summer, which prevented the Penguins from sending the 31-year-old winger to Minnesota for Jason Zucker and Victor Rask. The Wild weren’t on his eight-team list on his no-trade clause, but maybe the Nashville Predators are.
The Preds are a team who have proven to be a contender, who are tied for the second longest active playoff appearance streak in the NHL (with the defending champion Washington Capitals) with five straight playoff seasons. The only team ahead of the Nashville Predators is Phil Kessel’s current team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have a solid 13-year streak.
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The Nashville Predators also pushed Kessel’s Penguins to six games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals, which also showcased how much of a hockey town Nashville really is, which could really entice Phil Kessel to want to come to the Music City.
Kessel is a guy who can help the Predators build off of their current success, as he’s coming off a 27 goal, 82 point season. A season that saw him play every single game for the 10th time in his 13 year career.
Since joining the Penguins in 2015, Phil Kessel has amassed four 82 game seasons, 110 goals and 303 points in 328 regular season games during his four seasons in the Steel City.
Kessel has also been an elite playoff performer in Pittsburgh, scoring 20 goals and 56 points in 65 playoff games, also helping the Pens win the Stanley Cup twice in four postseason appearances.
With a resume this good, the Nashville Predators should be absolutely jumping at the idea of making a trade for the 31-year-old winger, and the aforementioned Minnesota trade should give us some context as to how much the Penguins want for him.
The first trade included a cap dump of Jack Johnson, along with 27 year old, 0.5 point per game forward Jason Zucker and 26-year-old Victor Rask, who seems to have lost all trade value at this point, only registering nine points in 49 games last season.
The Nashville Predators can offer a trade package that would be more enticing for Pittsburgh than this one, as well as be a spot that Kessel would approve of playing for. This trade offer starts with Craig Smith.
Smith is a very solid two way forward who can give a team 20 goals a season. He still has a lot of productive seasons left in him at the age of 29, so he would be a perfect option in Pittsburgh’s retooling phase.
The other piece of this trade would be Ryan Ellis, a solid top pairing defenseman that the Pittsburgh Penguins could desperately use, as their defense is depleted. Ellis has proven to be great on both sides of the ice and Pittsburgh could definitely use that help.
Ellis also seems to be an expendable piece on the Nashville Predators blue line, as the young Dante Fabbro seems to be emerging as a top-four defenseman on the Preds roster.
This trade may look like a slight overpay compared to what Minnesota offered, but it works out for both sides, as Nashville gets an elite scoring winger and Pittsburgh gets more help in the defensive end.
With this trade, the Nashville Predators would have one of the most fearsome top sixes in the NHL, with the JoFA line having its spot as line one, but now a possibly even scarier second line emerges.
Phil Kessel also adds a very nice scoring touch to a Nashville Predators power play that desperately needs it, as they finished near the bottom of the league in power play percentage in the regular season, while also failing to score a single power play goal in the postseason.
Kessel is a guy who can shoot the puck well, as most of the goals in his arsenal have been off slap shots and wrist shots from set positions, which gives the playmakers on the Preds power play a nice option to pass the puck to instead of constantly cycling the puck until they get a nice point shot.
They can easily find Phil Kessel right in Ovi’s office in the left faceoff circle, waiting for a juicy pass to come his way and tuck home. It’s just one of many holes that Phil Kessel can fix for the Preds
There is no telling what the Nashville Predators can accomplish with an elite player like Phil Kessel on their already loaded roster, which is why they should go all in and acquire his services from the Pittsburgh Penguins.