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PHIL THE THRILL: Golden Knights Sign Kessel to One-Year Deal

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Vegas Golden Knights Phil Kessel Free Agency Arizona Coyotes right wing Phil Kessel (81) in the first period during an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks, Friday, April 1, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Vegas Golden Knights have signed veteran NHL’er Phil Kessel to a one-year $1.5 million deal. The announcement was made on Wednesday by general manager Kelly McCrimmon. Phil Kessel is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and the current holder of the NHL’s longest active games-played streak.

With Golden Knights parting ways with Evgenii Dadonov, Max Pacioretty, and Mattias Janmark this offseason, the team was in need of some scoring wingers. Kessel is exactly that, a scoring winger, even at 34 years of age.

After a trade from Pittsburgh, Kessel spent three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. His goal-scoring significantly dropped last season as he scored only eight goals. But to compensate, he tallied 44 assists for 52 points in a full season.

A thing to point out about Kessel’s time in Arizona is that he played for Arizona, meaning his team was not all that competitive in his three years there. His scoring likely dipped for multiple reasons, but he is now going from having Barrett Hayton as his centermen to potentially Jack Eichel.

Signing Kessel to a $1.5 million deal is a relatively low-risk move by the Golden Knights. He can be moved up and down the lineup and can thrive on the powerplay. He has 117 career powerplay goals and 324 powerplay points in his career. Kessel still has a bit of offense left in him, and the VGK will utilize it.

Another thing that Kessel has going for him is his active games-played streak, which is currently the longest in the NHL. He needs to play in eight more consecutive games to pass Keith Yandle’s all-time record of 980 games. Kessel began this streak on Nov. 3, 2009, with the Boston Bruins.

If everything goes according to plan, Kessel will tie Yandle’s record on Oct. 24 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home, break the record on Oct. 25 on the road against the San Jose Sharks, and play his 1,000th consecutive NHL game on Nov. 17 against his former team, the Arizona Coyotes at home.

In 2016 and 2017, Kessel was a key member of the Pittsburgh Penguin’s back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships. He meshed well with both Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino to form the famous ‘HBK’ line.

Kessel also won the 2006-07 Bill Masterton trophy for perseverance and sportsmanship after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

For the first time in his career, Kessel may have to change his number. Jonathan Marchessault currently wears no. 81 and has worn it since the Golden Knight’s inaugural season. Kessel has worn no. 81 with four different franchises.

While Kessel’s personality and ‘love for hotdogs’ are the source of a lot of jokes and discussion, one thing is for sure; he is a nice guy who works hard and loves the game. Phil Kessel is a Vegas Golden Knight.

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Owen Krepps covers the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now. A 2022 Robert Morris University graduate, he has previously written for RMU Sentry Media, Colonial Sports Network, The Titusville Herald, Pittsburgh Sports Now, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

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