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Leafs Trade Phil Kessel To Penguins

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  • Leafs Trade Phil Kessel To Penguins

    Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Phil Kessel from Toronto Maple Leafs

    The most buzzworthy NHL name of the summer is on the move, with the Toronto Maple Leafs shipping star winger Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    The Leafs are sending Kessel, forward Tyler Biggs, defenseman Tim Erixon and a conditional draft pick to the Penguins in exchange for defenseman Scott Harrington, forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling, a conditional draft pick and a third-round selection in '16.

    In addition, Toronto will retain 15 percent of Kessel's salary, or $1.2 million annually, a source said.

    The teams announced the deal Wednesday, hours after the start of NHL free agency.

    Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford made no secret about his wish to go big-game hunting in the hopes of landing a top-6 winger. Though he was unsuccessful in doing that during last weekend's draft, his patience ultimately paid off as he was able to land Kessel on the first day of free agency.

    The 27-year-old Kessel collected 25 goals and 36 assists this past season for the Leafs, his sixth with the team. He has 247 goals and 273 assists in nine seasons between Boston and Toronto.

    He was rumored to be on the move for some time now, especially with the Leafs in rebuilding mode and the team looking to complete an overhaul in wake of another abysmal season. They finished 30-44-8, leading to them hiring Mike Babcock as coach.

    Team president Brendan Shanahan said before the draft that the Leafs would not make any move hastily when it came to Kessel, though he characterized the interest in the five-time 30-goal scorer as strong.

    Kessel joins Penguins superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, though it is unclear which centerman he's likely to slot in with when the season begins.

    Kessel has five years remaining on a deal that carries a cap hit of $8 million annually. Though the Pens likely will face some cap issues in the future, Rutherford was able to pull off the deal without sending back either of the team's top two young defenseman, Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot.

    Kapanen, taken with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, was considered one of the top forward prospects in the Penguins' organization.