Teams in touch with Phil Kessel

Teams in touch with Phil Kessel

The veteran remains unsigned … for now.



Free agent Phil Kessel is still waiting to be picked up by a team looking to play his 18th NHL season. He remains unsigned, but ready to get the call.

“I’m staying ready,” Kessel told Pierre LeBrun in The Athletic. “I’ve been skating. In the next week, I’m going to work with a skating guy here [in Arizona]. We’re going to do individual sessions to stay ready.

“Obviously, I’m a little surprised I haven’t got anything yet, but it is what it is, right?”

Last season, the 36-year-old forward played all 82 games with the Vegas Golden Knights, winning his third Stanley Cup while sitting out the majority of the team’s playoff run. He still managed to extend his Ironman streak to 1,064 games. But he maintains he is willing to sign with any team without any concern over seeing the streak end.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I think people think I care about that. I’ve never cared about that. I’ve always been a guy that feels he should be in the lineup and if I can play, I’ll play.

“I played through a lot of stuff during that time, and I’d rather be playing than in the stands.”

That’s a good thing and may convince teams to add Kessel to their roster. After all, he did put up solid numbers last season, recording 14 goals and 22 assists in 12:49 per game in ice time in 2022-23. LeBrun reports that some teams are interested in the three-time Stanley Cup champion, but that money is the issue.

“Teams have kept in touch with Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott from Newport Sports. It’s far from radio silence. But salary cap issues make it difficult for some of the clubs to actually make an offer yet.”

Kessel played out last season on a one-year, $1.5 million deal. It’s likely he would settle for less in order to stay in the NHL and the team signing him could work around bonuses to help massage the cap.

“I’m willing to kind of go wherever,” added Kessel. “Because I want to play. I love to play.

“I feel like I can help any team. I think my resume kind of speaks to that, right?”

It has to be frustrating to Kessel, who can pretty much contribute to any club out there, in my humble opinion. Even if he only appeared in four playoff games as the Golden Knights defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the first round and was out for the remainder of the team’s run.

I mean the guy currently sits 11th among active players with 992 points and 12th in goals with 413 over his 1,286 career games.

He needs a new contract!

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