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First Call: Possible Phil Kessel landing spot; Pirates scout outfielder; loving Le’Veon Bell | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: Possible Phil Kessel landing spot; Pirates scout outfielder; loving Le’Veon Bell

Tim Benz
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Chaz Palla
The Penguins’ Phil Kessel raises the Cupafter beating the Predators in the Stanley Cup Final Sunday, June 11 , 2017 at Bridgestone Arena.

It’s a trade-heavy “First Call” for Friday. The Penguins may be engaged in a potential trade for Phil Kessel. Jets coach Adam Gase is denying ideas he wants to trade Le’Veon Bell. And the Pirates may be interested in acquiring a New York Yankee.


Pharewell Phil?

Tribune-Review Penguins writer Jonathan Bombulie has been told by a league source that the Penguins are actively shopping Phil Kessel.

And the destination may be Minnesota.

Both the Pittsburgh and Minnesota branches of The Athletic are reporting a deal between the Penguins and Wild could be brewing.

It’s possible Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson could be part of the swap, too. Jason Zucker and Victor Rask may exit Minnesota in return.

Zucker is quick and has 76 goals over the last three years. Rask projects as a fourth-liner in Minnesota next year and makes $4 million annually the next three years. So he’d add slightly more of a cap dent than Johnson to a team that already projects to being $3 million over.

Some of this talk makes sense. Some of it doesn’t. Former Penguins and Wild player Mike Rupp had these thoughts on the NHL Network.

OK. Sure. The HBK line was great. But it was great — in part — because the lines in front of it were anchored by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Kessel won’t have that luxury in Minnesota.

Kessel played college hockey with the Golden Gophers, so he knows Minnesota. But as of now, that’s not on his “approved destinations” list for his no-trade clause.

He may need some convincing that this is the right move.

As do I.


Lovin Le’V

Jets coach Adam Gase did what he could to quell speculation that he didn’t want his organization to sign former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.

And that such dislike of Bell’s acquisition led to a front-office shake-up earlier this month.

“We signed him. I’m excited we have him,” Gase said Friday of his $52.5 million running back.

Gase also refuted any notion that Bell may be spun in a trade before this season starts.

Gase was less convincing when trying to downplay his reported disgust with the size of Bell’s deal.

“The contract was what it was,” he said. “Everybody can criticize contracts all you want, but he’s here.”

Gase then gave a long and winding answer before he was asked whether the team overpaid to get Bell in free agency.

“No,” he stated flatly.

This is gonna go great!


Crowd for Clint

The Pirates already have a Newman and Kramer.

Do they need a Frazier?

Well, another one I mean? Isn’t Adam enough?

Come to think of it, they have have a Clint, too.

They also have a lot of depth in the outfield. So why would the Pirates want to acquire Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier? That’s unclear.

But the New York Post writes that scouts from Pittsburgh were on hand watching Frazier as he belted two home runs in Baltimore on Tuesday.

Well he did it again at Camden Yards on Thursday in the Yankees’ 6-5 win.

That’s Frazier’s ninth homer of the year. The Pirates considered him as part of a potential deal for Gerrit Cole when New York was part of that bidding process before Houston ended up winning it.

But Bryan Reynolds homered Thursday. So did Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. Melky Cabrera is hitting .333. And Corey Dickerson will — eventually — return from injury.

So if Frazier were to come to Pittsburgh this time, is one of those others guys potentially on the way out first?


Beer here!

Most of Milwaukee must have hated how Game 5 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals went.

That’s because the Raptors beat the hometown Bucks, 105-99, to take a 3-2 series lead.

However, Green Bay Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari enjoyed himself anyway.

Someone wake up David and tell him what the score was. Something tells me he didn’t make it through halftime.

How about David showing up his quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the drinking contest?! Bakhtiari better check with Mike McCarthy about how Rodgers reacts when he thinks someone is making him look bad.


Not that guy again

When we last saw Brock Nelson, he was torturing the Penguins in the playoffs.

The Islanders forward had three goals — including two game-winners — during the sweep of the Penguins in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

He signed a six-year contract extension with New York. It’s worth $36 million. The 27-year-old forward set career highs in points (53) and assists (28) in 2018-19. He played in all 82 games for the second straight year.

Nelson’s seven goals against the Penguins are the second-most he has against any club. He has eight against Detroit and Carolina.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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