Major update on Phil Kessel from NHL insider Chris Johnston
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Major update on Phil Kessel from NHL insider Chris Johnston

Is this the end for Phil the Thrill?



We're into the second week of the 2023-24 NHL regular season and everyone's favorite Ironman Phil Kessel is still sitting at home with a contract.

This past offseason NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported that Kessel had informed teams that he is willing to break his Ironman streak just to get an opportunity to play. He doesn't need to be guaranteed a full-time roster spot, he just wants to play. For the record, Kessel has played 1,064 consecutive regular season games without missing a single one.

More from Friedman back in August:

Hope everyone had a great summer; enjoy your final weekend of freedom. But first: a quick blog on Phil Kessel.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion wants to play again in 2023-24. But, the most significant detail is that he’s let teams know it won’t be a problem if he’s not an every-day player.

Kessel is the NHL’s Ironman, the only player in league history to play at least 1,000 games in a row. His current streak is 1,064 — 75 more than Keith Yandle, whose record Kessel broke last season. (Kessel did not appear in all of Vegas’s playoff games, but the postseason does not factor into consecutive games records.)

Letting teams know this detail in advance is important, because ending these streaks causes enormous stress if there is not buy-in from the player. In 2020-21, for example, Florida teammates made their displeasure very clear when the Panthers wanted to scratch Yandle from the lineup at the start of the season. He didn’t miss a game.

- Elliotte Friedman

Friedman goes on to state that Kessel's streak was a bit of a sticking point in some discussions with teams as no one wants to be the team that ruins his record setting streak. By taking some pressure off these teams, Kessel is hoping that it opens the door to more fruitful negotiations.

Today, TSN insider Chris Johnston provided a bit of an update on Kessel, stating that there's interest out there from NHL teams and that he expects Kessel to join a team shortly.

From Johnston:

"He's been skating on his own. He didn't want to go to any training camps on a try-out but it sounds as though he's had a couple close calls with contracts in the past week or two and there is an expectation that he will join a team. 

He just wants to be a member of a team and continue living the dream.

- Chris Johnston

For what it's worth, Kessel was still relatively productive with the Vegas Golden Knights last season, scoring 14 goals and 36 points in 82 games. That's obviously not the level of production that we're used to seeing from Kessel, but it's still quality production for a depth forward on a good team.

Source: Chris Johnston