Back on June 29th, 2019, two-time Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel and a fourth round pick were traded to Arizona in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Former Coyotes General Manager John Chayka was looking for a scoring punch heading into the season as the Coyotes looked to end their seven-year-long playoff drought. On a phone call interview, I had with Coyotes former head coach Rick Tocchet back last season. He expressed how he was actually not in favor of the move surprisingly, even though Kessel and he are close friends. Tocchet wanted Chayka to hold on to the Coyotes assets and just keep building the team from within instead of rushing things, so where are the pieces involved in this trade now?
Let’s start with Kessel. He’s obviously the biggest part of the trade. After coming to Arizona he struggled to put up consistent numbers in his first season in the desert. It took him six games into the season to notch his first goal which was not like him, and in a 70-game COVID-shortened season, Kessel only managed to put up 14 goals which is second lowest in his career with only his rookie season in Boston being lower at 11. Kessel put up 24 assists in that 70 game season for a total of 38 points, so it was definitely a disappointing year. He would go on to tell the media that he dealt with a lingering injury most the season and decided to play through it because of his now 900 game iron man streak which is fifth on the all-time list. For the 2020-2021 campaign, fully rested and healed, Phil Kessel was looking to have a bounce-back year and he did. Putting up 20 goals and 23 assists for 43 point’s in 56 games things looked good for him on the ice, but the organization was in a limbo and needed to decide what they were going to do moving forward. New Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong and ownership eventually decided to go in a different direction with the club. The Coyotes started selling off a ton of their players and cap space to go into a full on rebuild. Kessel has expressed that he has no interest in being a part of the rebuild and wants to be traded, but even with the season he just had no NHL GM’s were willing to make a move. However many reports have speculated that it could take a hot start from Kessel in order for a GM to be enticed on the aging winger. With only being under contact for this next season at $6.8M a deal should eventually be sorted out. It looks like the end of days for Phil the Thrill in Arizona.
For Alex Galchenyuk it has been a constant and consistent struggle since he left Arizona. He put up a solid 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points back with the club during the 2018-19 season, but since then he has found himself on four different NHL clubs in the span of two season’s. It did not work out in Pittsburgh even though hopes were high, as he put a a measly 5 goals and 12 assists in 45 games. He was shipped off before the deadline to Minnesota. After a decent production of 3 goals and 4 assists in 14 games the Wild still decided to move on from him and so did the Senators and Maple Leafs the two other teams that took a chance on him. That left Galchenyuk without a place to play, so where is he now? It has come full circle for Galchenyuk as he recently signed a PTO with none other than the Arizona Coyotes. Galchenyuk has expressed his love for Arizona, and that he wants to play there really bad to a private source that knows him personally. You can just tell he wants to be there again. With the Coyotes currently in a full on rebuild he should have no problem earning himself a contract and hopefully having another solid season in the desert like he had in his last stint with the club. All I can say is that the majority of Yotes fans are happy he’s back!
As for Pierre-Olivier Joseph the final piece in the deal. The 22-year-old is still trying to find his way and eventually crack a top four defensemen Penguins roster spot. Originally selected 23rd overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2017 NHL Draft. Joseph has taken a little bit longer to develop. That’s usually how It tends to go with defenseman anyway. Just this last season he got a taste of NHL play. Lacing up for 16 games he put up a respectable 4 points in his first 5 games, but for the remaining 11 his play seemed to drop off in all areas of the game. However, Joesph has really impressed Penguins staff in training camp and he could be looking at a bottom six role as well as rotating out with the other 7th defenseman for this upcoming season. Depending on how this year goes we could be looking at a full time top four defenseman for the Penguins next season with a possible defensive partner of the likes of John Marino.