The Penguins acquired forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph from Arizona in exchange for Phil Kessel, Dane Birks and a 2021 4th-round draft pick. Here is the transcript from Pens general manager Jim Rutherford's conference call with the media following the trade.
Was this trade about changing the culture of the Penguins?
I also said when trades took place it wasn't necessarily about one player. It's really about everybody, the manager, the coaches, the players, as how the culture gets changed and how we go about things. I don't want to point this at Phil. First of all, I'll say that he was he was a terrific player for us and a huge part of winning those two Cups. I can't say enough good things about him. I like him personally. It was just time to make a change with him. It took a while. I tried to accommodate him with a place he wanted to go, so it worked out that way. We end up getting a player that we like that's capable of scoring. Hopefully this is a deal that works for both teams. I wish Phil a lot of good luck and thank him for everything he's done.
Did Phil ask to be traded?
He asked to be traded a few times over the course of time. Of course, then a little time went by and he wasn't quite sure if he wanted traded. There were times when he felt that going somewhere else would be in everybody's best interest.
How the deal came about?
At the end of our playoffs I made the teams that weren't still playing aware that we were open to make changes. I was well aware that the No. 1 place that Phil wanted to go was Arizona. He has a very good relationship with Rick Tocchet. I think it's going to be a good place for him. Those talks went on and off, on and off until we got to this point. Everyone is aware that there was another team involved at one point in time that didn't work out. I would say over the last five or six days is when this got more serious.
What he likes about Galchenyuk?
Changing the mix of our team was important at this point. I talked about our team being content with our success over the last few years. Trying to bring new people in that are excited to be here. I talked to Alex in the last 15 minutes. His excitement was coming right through the phone. He's very excited about coming here. Alex has scored in the past. He's very capable of scoring goals. If he plays to the level that he's capable of he should be a guy that contributes a lot of goals.
On Kessel and Mike Sullivan's relationship?
It wasn't a problem for me. I think it was a little blown out of proportion at times. There were times that they didn't agree on things, maybe what line he was on and what not. That's not an isolated case. That happens at times throughout our league. That was not the factor of him being moved. He certainly could have stayed here and they could have coexisted. I did not see that as a problem of our team not getting to the level of play that we felt we should have, or played longer in the playoffs. I did not see that as the issue.
On his thoughts on Joseph?
We'll see how he does at camp, but it takes defensemen longer to develop. I suspect that it will take a few years. He was a first-round pick. He's a very good skater. We're a team that has traded our draft picks to win now, we're a team always looking for young, good prospects. I was very happy we were able to get him in this deal. He's in our pipeline now. We start to pick up a few more younger players to make up for the ones that we lost over the last few years.
On cap savings?
It opens up almost two-million dollars in cap space now. We acquired a player whose contract expires at the end of the year. We'll have some flexibility either signing the player to go forward or opening up our cap space. We like that part of it. It was something that was necessary and a part of what we looked at when we made this deal. As far as free agency, we had no chance of being active on Monday. Now this gives us a chance of looking at somebody. We do have a couple players in mind if we're one of the fortunate teams once we get there. We'd like to add somebody. We'll hope over the next couple of days that this becomes part of this deal. We look at this deal right now as what you see, what the two teams traded off for. But if we can add something in free agency it becomes part of this whole scenario.