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Penguins' Crosby, Kessel start building chemistry

by Staff /

Phil Kessel knows what it's like to be on the ice against Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. On Thursday, Kessel got his first chance to see what it's like to play with them.

Kessel, acquired by the Penguins in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, skated with Crosby and Malkin for the first time during an informal workout at the Penguins practice facility.

"Obviously they're great players," Kessel told the Penguins website. "Best players in the world. I'm lucky to play with them."

Kessel had 25 goals and a Maple Leafs-high 61 points last season. Those totals would have placed him third on the Penguins behind Crosby (84) and Malkin (70).

Kessel is expected to play right wing on Crosby's line this season.

During the NHL Player Media Tour in Toronto this week, Crosby talked about how excited he was at the thought of playing on a line with Kessel. Crosby on Thursday said his time on the ice with Kessel reinforced some of the positive attributes he knew his new linemate had.

"Lot of speed. Shoots the puck really well," Crosby said. "Just things when we played against him we were well aware of. It's easy to see when you're playing with him those are some big strengths of his."

Kessel arrived in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and said he's beginning to settle into the area and get to know his teammates. Crosby said he hopes Kessel can be just another player on the Penguins after he was the center of attention during six seasons with the Maple Leafs.

"I think it's a more relaxed environment than Toronto," Kessel said. "Media is a little less here. I expect to do well here and I expect the team to do well."

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