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Kessel, Penguins respond to trade rumors

Right wing says move wouldn't be surprise; GM expects to keep him

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Right wing Phil Kessel isn't expected to be traded by the Pittsburgh Penguins this summer, but he said Friday he wouldn't be surprised if it happens.

"You know what, it happens all the time, right?" Kessel told TSN. "I've been traded before, and if I get traded again, it is what it is. It's a business, and if I'm somewhere else, I'll play hard for them.

"Hockey's a strange game. You never know why you get traded or what they're thinking. It could be from years down the road or whatever. Like I said, it's a business, and if you look at it like that, it's all right."

In response to a column that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford on Thursday told a Pittsburgh radio station that he doesn't expect to trade Kessel, who has a limited no-trade clause and has helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. The 29-year-old had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in the 2015-16 postseason.

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm5: Kessel rips a laser from the slot

"Phil Kessel's an important part of the Penguins," Rutherford told 93.7 FM The Fan, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He gets a lot of points. He scores big goals. He sets up big goals. The more impact players that you have, like we have, the better chance you have of winning.

"He's an important part. I don't want to sit here and say that a certain player's not going to get traded at some point in his career. I mean, Phil already did. But that's not something that I foresee happening right now."

Kessel has a strong relationship with former Penguins assistant Rick Tocchet, who was named coach of the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.

"He is my favorite assistant coach of all time I've ever played for," Kessel told The Buffalo News prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Final. "He understands what it's like to play the game, to be a player. He just gets it. He's been there, played a long time. Coached as a head man and an assistant. He makes it fun. ... I don't want to see him go, right? Because he's a great guy and a great coach."

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm2: Kessel rips wrister past Anderson

Kessel has 649 points (296 goals, 353 assists) in 832 NHL games in his 11-year NHL career with the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Penguins. He has scored at least 20 goals in nine consecutive seasons.

He has been traded twice; by the Bruins to the Maple Leafs on Sept. 18, 2009, and by the Maple Leafs to the Penguins on July 1, 2015.

"Obviously I'd never imagine winning back-to-back [championships], but we found a way," Kessel said. "We've got a great group there and hopefully we can do it again."

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