Phil Kessel makes a big statement regarding his future.
Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports  

Phil Kessel makes a big statement regarding his future.

Phil Kessel is without an NHL contract, and now the multi-time Stanley Cup champion is speaking out.

Jonathan Larivee

Phil Kessel is making it clear that he wants to be a National Hockey League player in the 2023-24 season, and it sounds like he is going the extra mile to let teams know that he is prepared to go the extra mile to make it happen.

This week, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported that Kessel is now informing teams around the league that he is prepared to be featured in a depth role, one that would effectively bring his record-setting ironman streak to an end. It seems that Kessel and his management believe that teams are wary of signing him due to the stigma that would come with ending that ironman streak, stigma that Kessel is hoping to eliminate by taking this step.

From Friedman:

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.

In spite of the fact that he was barely deployed during the STanley Cup playoffs, Kessel showed that he can be an effective point producer last season with the Vegas Golden Knights. Kessel appeared in all 82 games last season, scoring 14 goals and adding 22 assists for a total of 36 points and is hoping he can do more of the same in a more limited role this season.

The good news for Kessel is that his long tenure in the NHL has seen him move around quite a bit, somethign that has given him plenty of time to build relationships along the way. Kessel has previously spent time with the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights.

Unfortunately for the veteran forward he has also earned something of a reputation as a difficult player to coach, and you have to wonder if teams will be willing to take a gamble on him in a depth role given those concerns. Either way it seems likely that Kessel will have to either accept a deal close to the league minimum salary to make this work, or perhaps even a professional tryout offer if he is unable to land an NHL contract.