Canucks coach not holding breath on Phil Kessel signing

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins
Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The Vancouver Canucks made some waves when they had announced that free agent Phil Kessel would begin skating with the Abbotsford Canucks. However, head coach Rick Tocchet has been careful to avoid making any kind of promises.

He’s going to have to go down to Abbotsford for a while and see where he’s at. He’s been out for about 10 months," Tocchet told Sportsnet's Brendan Batchelor. "He’s got a great pedigree. It’s just a look. We’ll see what transpires."

A video of Kessel getting tired during a skate with the Abby Canucks went semi-viral, but it really is not that big of a deal. The Canucks' auditioner hasn't played a game in forever, and during his time off probably wasn't skating every day like he would have been if he were to have been signed to a team already.

Kessel, of course, is the owner of the NHL's regular season ironman streak, having played his last 1,064 regular season games uninterrupted. Tocchet's caution is completely warranted; those who are expecting the 36-year-old Kessel to ink a contract and hop into games right away are mistaken. Conditioning is only the first hoop for the former Vegas Golden Knights forward to jump through, then comes the actual learning of the system and the hockey parts of the deal.

At the same time, the good news is that we know the Canucks will not be relying on him for regular playing time if Kessel does indeed sign a contract with the team. Depth on the wings has been one surprising strong point for this Canucks team, and they already went and addressed the center position with Elias Lindholm.


Kessel's fit in Vancouver is still unclear at best, though he is familiar with Tocchet and already has his foot in the door. Where this goes beyond that, we'll have to wait and see.