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Coyotes acquire Kessel: Elite goal scorer immediately bolsters offense

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes

"Lead horse" acquired.

Saturday's trade to land forward Phil Kessel secured an elite asset to drive the Coyotes' offense, a proven scorer -- John Chayka's biggest offseason target.

Box, checked.

"Phil has been one of the best offensive producers in the league for a sustained period of time and we think he's going to come in motivated and ready to go," Chayka stated. "We needed a guy that could produce offensively and consistently, and we were looking for a veteran player that had a history of doing it"

Historically speaking, Kessel has quite the resume over his 996-game NHL career, one that includes 823 points, two Stanley Cup championships, and rigid durability - the 31-year-old has not missed a single game in any of his previous eight seasons. 

Providing the Coyotes with an offensive threat arguably unprecedented to the organization, Kessel is coming off of a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in which he averaged a point-per-game, matching the second-highest single-season output of his illustrious NHL career.

"Phil is an elite player, I don't remember the last time we've had a player of this caliber [on our team] that has his production," said Chayka. "He's been an elite offensive producer for a long period of time and he's done it not only in the NHL but on the world stage, the Olympics, the World Cup, things of that nature. He plays extremely well in the biggest games."

The Coyotes will be the fourth team Kessel plays for since he was selected fifth overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

"I'm just coming in to do what I do best and to try and help the team win as many games as possible," he told reporters once the trade was announced as official. "I think [the Coyotes] are a good young up-and-coming team, I think they have a lot of great pieces in place, a lot of good players, and I'm looking to try and help them along and take the next step."

Head coach Rick Tocchet served as an assistant coach for the Penguins for three seasons (2014-17), where he and Kessel developed a strong bond, a dynamic player-coach relationship.

"I'm excited to have Phil join our team," Tocchet said. "He's a dynamic player that can be a difference-maker for us when the game is on the line."

"He's a friend of mine," Kessel said when asked of reuniting with Tocchet. "I think he's a great coach, a good person, and I want to help him succeed and do great things in Phoenix. I'm looking forward to it and I'm excited that he's going to be my coach."

Past relationships can have a profound effect on the synergy of a team, especially when they're as noteworthy as the one between the Coyotes' new scorer and the head coach.

"Tocchet knows [Phil] extremely well, he's coached him, he knows exactly what he's getting," Chayka said, aware of the strong history between the two. "And Phil knows exactly what he's getting with Tocchet."

A good match.

"There's a certain fit, a certain mindset that we want to have around here, a certain standard that we want to continue with our group," Chayka added. "In a lot of trades you make, there's always some asymmetry in information and you're not exactly sure, you try and find out as much as you can in your due diligence, and obviously this one was easy."

Easy for the numbers, easy for the history, and easy for the morale.

"I think it's a good fit for me," Kessel stated. "I think they've got some good pieces, some good young players and I think we can take the next step. You watched them last year; they were a good team. They're just improving and I want to be a part of this organization. I'm happy to be there."

Welcome to Arizona.

"Bringing in one of the premier scorers in the NHL-and a two-time Stanley Cup champion-demonstrates Mr. Meruelo's commitment to winning and to doing whatever it takes to make this organization great," said President & CEO Ahron Cohen. "This team is on the rise and today is an important acceleration forward for our organization and our amazing fans here in Arizona."

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