Phil Kessel to Penguins rival?
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Phil Kessel to Penguins rival?

Whoa! Say it ain't so, Phil!



Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman has broken off his summer vacation early to publish a report on NHL Ironman and unsigned free agent Phil Kessel and his future in the sport.

According to Friedman, Kessel has informed teams that he is willing to break his Ironman streak this upcoming season. 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:

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.

Dan Dukart, Columbus Blue Jackets insider with the 1st Ohio Battery blog, reports that Kessel could be a perfect fit on the Blue Jackets' forward corps. More from Dukart:

    Honestly, I'm not sure it's the best fit for Kessel but if he doesn't have any other options then there's a lot worse he could do. The Blue Jackets aren't Cup contenders by any means, but an improved campaign in 2023-24 could land them a playoff spot. Maybe? Ahh... who am I kidding? There's no chance.

    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: Dan Dukart