Phil Kessel workout with Canucks likely to end with contract agreement, insider says

Vegas Golden Knights v Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Golden Knights v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Vancouver Canucks invited Phil Kessel to work out with their American Hockey League affiliate Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday. According to one insider, the belief is this will end with a contract agreement between the Canucks and Kessel.

Kessel is still unsigned through the first five months of the 2023-24 regular season. Last year, Kessel skated for the Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights. The 36-year-old forward still maintains his 1,064 game Iron Man streak in the regular season. However, Kessel was often a healty scratch in the playoffs en route to Vegas' Stanley Cup victory.

Now, Kessel has a chance to earn a contract with one of the NHLs Stanley Cup favorites to this point in 2023-24.

A video circulated on Wednesday of Kessel at his first skate with Abbotsford. According to those in attendance, Kessel was apparently "gassed" following some drills during his first workout.

Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman saw the video and chimed in.

“I watched the video yesterday and thought, ‘This is not going to be good,’ Friedman explained on the latest Jeff Marek Show. "One of the things that bothers me about Twitter is the pile-on nature of it. One person makes a joke and then everybody feels that they have to make a joke. It’s not just enough to make a joke of something, but we just have to pile drive people into the ground.”

Regardless of the perception of Kessel after a single workout in Abbotsford, Friedman continued by explaining the likelihood of Kessel and Vancouver agreeing to a contract remains high.

“I look at it this way. I think Kessel went to Vancouver and the Canucks brought him in there with the understanding that unless something really went wrong here, he’s going to sign," Friedman stated. "I don’t think one skate is indicative of anything, but I’m under the impression, and heard this from several places, that things would really have to go sideways for him not to sign... Until I hear Vancouver is really unhappy, I think this marriage is going to happen at some point.”

The belief here is that Kessel was brought into the Canucks organization because of his relationship with Vancouver's head coach, Rick Tocchet. Tocchet has been able to draw the best out of Kessel in the past, notably when he worked with the veteran forward in Arizona with the Coyotes.

Despite the perception that Kessel was out of shape after just one skate, it doesn't appear the Canucks' perception of Kessel has changed and a contract agreement is likely.

The Canucks have already made some impact moves in acquiring both Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm. Kessel might not be what he once was, however, he's still enough that the Canucks believe he'll make an impact on Vancouver as well.