Report: Kessel signing with Canucks, will be announced March 8

Veteran forward Phil Kessel has signed with the Vancouver Canucks, according to a report from Chris Johnston.
Phil Kessel has reportedly signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
Phil Kessel has reportedly signed with the Vancouver Canucks. / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

According to a report from NHL insider Chris Johnston, the Vancouver Canucks will sign veteran forward Phil Kessel. The deal will be announced prior to the 12 p.m. PST trade deadline on Friday, March 8.

Reports of Kessel joining the Canucks have been circulating since the team brought him in to train with their AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Canucks in early February. The three-time Stanley Cup champion has not played since April 24, 2023, and reports have said that he’s been a bit slow in practice.

Kessel, 36, played for Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet with both the Arizona Coyotes and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tocchet gets a lot of credit for unlocking Kessel’s full potential — something that other coaches struggled to do. Canucks management is also familiar with Kessel, as Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford won the Cup twice with him in Pittsburgh.

In 82 regular season games with the Vegas Golden Knights last year, Kessel scored 14 goals and 36 points. He also played four playoff games, where he recorded two assists. Some have speculated that Kessel would struggle to crack the Canucks’ lineup, especially in the playoffs, but depth is never a bad thing — especially when your depth players are on two-way contracts, as Kessel might be.

When he joins the Canucks, Kessel will likely get a chance on the powerplay. The Canucks’ powerplay has struggled since the all-star break, operating at 13.6%. That’s better than only the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. More than a quarter of Kessel’s goals have come on the powerplay, and he can still shoot the puck like few others.

Although he hasn’t played this year, Kessel still technically holds his Ironman streak — 1,064 games — and can add to it when he signs with the Canucks. The league’s reasoning is that you can’t miss a game for which you weren’t under contract.