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Report: Wild, Penguins engaged in trade talks involving Phil Kessel

The ex-Gopher could reportedly be headed back to Minnesota.

Wild fans thirsty for some big news got a double dose of it Thursday, with the team adding North Stars great Mike Modano to the front office and big trade offer report from The Athletic's Michael Russo

Let's start with the trade speculation. 

According to Russo, the Wild has an offer on the table to the Penguins that would bring Phil Kessel to Minnesota and send Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh. Russo says there could be other pieces involved, but the only holdup in keep the trade from happening at this point is whether Kessel will accept the deal. 

The report (paywall) notes that Kessel has a partial no-trade clause in his contract. 

Kessel, a 31-year-old native of Madison, Wisconsin, who starred for the Gophers before being drafted fifth overall in 2005, has been a point-producing machine for the Penguins. He had 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists) in 82 games last season, while piling up 92 points the year before and 70 points in 2016-17. 

Zucker is four years younger and a lot faster, but he hasn't produced at the level Kessel has. Zucker showed signs of blossoming into a star in 2017-18 when he had career highs in goals (33) and assists (31), but he backpedaled this past season with just 21 goals and 21 assists. 

Russo goes on to say the Wild is actively shopping Zucker, letting teams know he's available. 

Mike Modano added to Wild front office

The Wild announced Thursday that Mike Modano, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NHL Draft by the North Stars, is returning to the State of Hockey as an executive advisor for the Wild. 

He won't be working in day-to-day hockey operations, but he will be working closely with owner Craig Leipold and president Matt Majka, the team says. 

"Modano's role with the Wild will not include day-to-day involvement in the hockey operations department. Instead, Modano will have a chance to work hand-in-hand with owner Craig Leipold and team president Matt Majka on a number of business-related ventures. He'll serve as a business ambassador of sorts, by supporting the team's sales, corporate partnerships and community relations efforts"

"He is well known, he's well recognized. He's still one of 'our guys.' He still has it," said Leipold in a release. "Whatever the 'it' is in this market, he has it. He's going to be great for us."

Modano starred in Minnesota for five years before the North Stars relocated to Dallas, with Modano leading the Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999. 

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