According to Vancouver Canucks insider Rick Dhaliwal, the team is reportedly considering adding veteran forward Phil Kessel as part of their Stanley Cup push.
Kessel and other unrestricted free agents are eligible to play in the playoffs, provided they sign before the March 8 trade deadline.
“I want to play,” Kessel said in an interview with Sportsnet last week. “I have the desire. I love to play the game still.
Although he has yet to play a game in the 2023-24 NHL season, Kessel’s Ironman streak will continue if he signs a contract. As far as the NHL is concerned with its records, you can’t miss a game that you weren’t signed for.
“Obviously, I don’t feel old or anything like that,” Kessel said in the interview with Sportsnet. ”So, you know, I enjoy playing every game, and I’m looking forward to next year, wherever I’m at, and continuing my career.”
Kessel played two seasons under Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet as a member of the Arizona Coyotes. Tocchet was also Kessel’s assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins for two years, winning the Stanley Cup twice.
In 82 regular season games with the Vegas Golden Knights last season, Kessel potted 14 goals and 36 points while averaging less than 13 minutes a game. If he were to join the Canucks, he would likely play bottom-six minutes with significant time on the powerplay — just as he did last year with the Golden Knights.
Kessel played just four post-season games during the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup last season. He registered two assists in the playoffs.
One thing the Canucks lineup lacks is a championship pedigree. Only two players on the roster have Stanley Cup rings. Having won the Cup three times, adding Kessel would bring another battle-hardened veteran to the locker room who knows what it takes to win.
The Canucks wouldn’t be the first team to add a veteran mid-season this year. The Colorado Avalanche signed Zach Parise on Jan. 26, and the Edmonton Oilers scooped up Corey Perry Jan. 22. Only Parise has managed to get on the scoresheet so far.