Former Leaf chasing a massive career milestone, but may fall short due to a lack of opportunity

Published August 19, 2023 at 12:05

For Phil Kessel, defying the odds doesn't even begin to describe his impressive NHL career with all of the adversity he has had to overcome. A former 5th overall pick by the Boston Bruins back in 2006, Kessel is a cancer survivor, overcoming his first career hurdle very early on. The next hurdle came in 2009, when Kessel refused to sign a contract with the Bruins. Normally, such a situation can place a bit of a black mark on a player, but fortunately for Phil "The Thrill", Brian Burke saw something in him and pulled off a massive trade to bring Kessel to Toronto, where his career really took off.

Kessel is not built like your prototypical hockey player, which has also altered the way he is perceived over the years. Some view him as lazy and unhealthy due to the fact that he isn't statuesque and doesn't have a six pack, but Kessel's blazing speed hasn't appeared to suffer at all, nor has his productivity over the years. He's also the NHL's all-time Iron Man, having played in 1,064 consecutive regular season games. Add 3 Stanley Cups into the equation and Kessel has managed to not only piece together a sensational hockey career, but is also, I'm sure, building a case for Hall of Fame status one day.

After winning his 3rd career Stanley Cup as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights this past season, Kessel now finds himself in an interesting position. He is now 35 years old and his best days are far behind him. He isn't expected to be an everyday player this season - if he plays at all. Deep into the month of August, Kessel still does not have a contract for next season. Not all players in their mid-to-late 30's receive new deals, and if Kessel were to ride off into the sunset now, he'll do so as one of the most accomplished players of this era. However, if he doesn't find a new deal, he'll miss out on an incredible career milestone.

Kessel currently sits at 992 points over his 1,286 game NHL career. He is just 8 points away from that elusive 1,000 point mark and it stands to reason that such a milestone would be an important one for him. Kessel earned $1.5M last season in Vegas and managed to pot 14 goals and 36 points in 82 games. With money tight for most teams around the league, we can probably rule Kessel out as an option for any contending team, unless he's willing to sign a league minimum deal, $775K. Even then, if he's cast in a 4th line role and ends up being in and out of the lineup, it may be tough to get into a rhythm. Still, if someone does take a chance on Phil, the chances that he'll post 8 points this season, even in limited use, appears to be pretty good.

If Kessel can't find a team willing to take a chance on him on an NHL contract this season, perhaps he'll attend training camp somewhere on a PTO in an attempt to earn a spot. If he can't, however, he'll likely finish his career just 8 points shy of another impressive milestone, falling just short of 1,000 career points.
August 19   |   683 answers
Former Leaf chasing a massive career milestone, but may fall short due to a lack of opportunity

Will Phil Kessel sign a new deal somewhere and hit 1,000 career points this year?

Yes58285.2 %
No10114.8 %
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