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Penguins GM happy with Kessel's preparation: report

by Staff

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he is very pleased with the way forward Phil Kessel prepared for his first season with the team.

"We had a good meeting in Toronto, and I've met with him a couple of times since," Rutherford told the Toronto Sun in remarks published Wednesday. "He's put in a good summer's work. He's done everything he's needed to do to be ready for camp."

Pittsburgh begins training camp on Thursday.

On July 1, the Penguins traded forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling, defenseman Scott Harrington, and a first-round and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Kessel, defenseman Tim Erixon, forward Tyler Biggs and a second-round pick in 2016.

Kessel spent time this summer training with Gary Roberts, who considers the soon-to-be 28-year-old (Oct. 2) among the NHL's best in leg strength, power and explosiveness.

Kessel scored 25 goals for the Maple Leafs last season but had a career-high 37 in 2013-14. He has 247 goals in 668 NHL games.

"I have absolutely no concerns," Rutherford said. "He's scored. He's been among the top four or five goal-scorers the past few years. And he's in the prime of his career."

Rutherford dismissed the notion Kessel needed a fresh start.

"I don't know if 'fresh start' is the right word," Rutherford said. "Maybe just a change. I think we all need a change in our life and in our career. … I had a really good meeting with him. He looks forward to the challenge."

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