Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

When hockey fans last saw Phil Kessel on the ice, he was hoisting the Stanley Cup in June as a proud member of the Vegas Golden Knights. However, as the first month of a new NHL season is about to end, Kessel remains without a definitive contract offer but eager to continue his playing career in the league.

Kessel, known for his self-deprecating X bio that humorously reads, “nice guy, tries hard, loves the game,” is far from finished with hockey. Throughout the offseason, he diligently maintained his training and stayed on the ice, awaiting an opportunity to play his 18th NHL season.

Phil Kessel, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

While there have been some conversations and teams showing interest, Kessel’s future in the NHL remains uncertain. At 36 years old, he still possesses some offensive prowess, coming off a season with 14 goals and 36 points. Furthermore, his former Golden Knights teammates lauded him as an exceptional teammate who kept spirits high behind the scenes, even when he was a frequent healthy scratch during their postseason run.

One of Kessel’s notable achievements is his impressive Ironman streak, with 1,064 consecutive regular-season games played. However, Kessel is not concerned about this record; his passion for the game still burns brightly.

With a career that has spanned stints with five NHL teams, suiting up for the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes and Vegas, Kessel has accumulated 413 goals, 579 assists for a total of 992 points. His three Stanley Cup championships speak to his valuable experience that he could provide for a team that believes it’s a contender, or for a team on the rise. 

Kessel Open to Accepting Any Role 

At this stage of his career, Kessel is open to accepting a role that may not guarantee him a spot in the lineup every game. He’s willing to adapt his role for the good of the team and having that mindset certainly opens up more potential landing spots for him. 

One intriguing scenario could be the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kessel’s experience and offensive capabilities could provide a significant boost to their lineup on the fourth line and perhaps the second power play unit. If the Blue Jackets found themselves out of a playoff spot in the highly competitive Eastern Conference as the trade deadline approaches, Kessel could potentially be flipped to a contender in exchange for a draft pick. I see it as a win-win situation for both Kessel and for the Blue Jackets. 

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Kessel’s 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, with 34 goals and 49 assists for 83 points, would offer the Blue Jackets a valuable asset. The team has a young and relatively inexperienced playoff roster. No player on the Columbus roster has won a Stanley Cup or knows what a deep postseason run in the NHL is like. That’s where Kessel could help. While his days as a 30-goal scorer are in the rear-view mirror, it never hurts to have another veteran in the room, someone that’s been-there, done-that and got the t-shirt over the course of a long, 82-game regular-season schedule. Kessel’s done that three times. 

As the Blue Jackets approach the second month of the season in November, Kessel’s future remains uncertain, but one thing appears clear: Columbus could use a player like Kessel at the bottom of its roster. His love for the game would be infectious, which is important for a team that figures to have more ups and downs during the season than a Cedar Point roller coaster. His presence on the roster would be an asset to the Blue Jackets both on and off the ice. 

Now, do I think the Blue Jackets will sign Kessel? Not a chance. But if I’m Blue Jackets’ general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, I’d be giving signing the unrestricted free agent and three-time Stanley Cup champion some serious thought. 

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The post Blue Jackets Should Consider Signing Phil Kessel appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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