The man, the ironman, and the thrill; he’s three-time Stanley Cup champion Phil Kessel. Kessel was signed by the Vegas Golden Knights to add depth to the lineup and for his playoff experience.
The ironman streak remained intact and stands at 1,064 regular season games. Kessel brought reliability to a Golden Knights lineup that featured a second straight year of injury troubles. Still, the 2022-23 season was Kessel’s lowest scoring output since his rookie season back in 2006-07. Kessel logged 36 points last season.
Perhaps the best value Kessel brought to the lineup was something that you will not find on a scoresheet. Team morale. Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel are just two Golden Knights who shared how positive it was to have Kessel with the team.
Kessel is an unrestricted free agent. Now that the Vegas Golden Knights have made deals with their final restricted free agents, will the Golden Knights consider offering another contract to Kessel? A strong case can be made to sign Kessel for one more season in Vegas.
“Takes me back to my Toronto days,” Kessel told Mike Stephens of The Hockey News. “You guys said I couldn’t win, and now I’m a three-time champ. Remember that.”
Who wouldn’t want a veteran with that kind of edge to him on their team?
Prior to joining the Golden Knights: Kessel was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and spent just two games in the American Hockey League. In his rookie season, Kessel played 70 games for the Boston Bruins. Kessel played six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and three years with the Arizona Coyotes prior to joining the Golden Knights in 2022.
How did the Golden Knights acquire Kessel? Kessel was signed as a free agent prior to the 2022-23 season.
Contract history: Kessel was signed to a one-year contract for $1.5 million by the Golden Knights for the 2022-23 season. Nearing the $100 million milestone, Kessel has $95.5 million in career earnings.
Road to the Golden Knights gameday roster: Kessel found himself moving throughout the top three forward lines and the second power play unit for most of the season.
NHL Stats: In 1,386 career NHL games, Kessel has 447 goals and 628 assists for a total of 1,075 points.
Role in Vegas: Kessel never really was able to consistently fit in with any of the top three forward units. There would be flashes every now and then of Kessel’s skill, but Kessel had a less than thrilling year on the ice for the Golden Knights. Maybe familiarity with the team and Cassidy’s system could lead to a bounce-back year for Kessel?