Malkin asked Penguins to trade him if Kessel stayed

The Pittsburgh Penguins apparently faced a choice this offseason: Keep Evgeni Malkin or keep Phil Kessel, but not both. Citing multiple team sources, that report suggests Malkin told the Penguins to trade him if they planned on keeping Kessel around for another season.

Malkin was exhausted of feeling caught in the ongoing conflict between his linemate and Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan, multiple team and league sources told Rossi. "By the end of last season, everybody from ownership to management to coaches believed Kessel had to go for Malkin to stay", Rossi wrote. Though the two highly skilled offensive players often showed great chemistry and found plenty of productivity together - including back-to-back Stanley Cup titles - they also seemed to have a volatile and explosive relationship, occasionally getting into spats with one another on the Penguins' bench when things weren't going well.

Malkin believed Kessel was content with two titles and mostly interested in his statistics, and the 33-year-old anxious he'd be seen in the same light if the American remained his winger, according to Rossi's team and league sources.

On June 30, Kessel, along with prospect blueliner Dane Bicks and a 2021 fourth-rounder, was shipped to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Alex Galchenyuk and defensive prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Malkin was anxious he'd be seen the same way if Kessel remained his winger.

Malkin denies that, but it doesn't mean he wanted to play another game, let alone another season, with Kessel as his linemate.

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