Three-time Stanley Cup champion Phil Kessel is still unemployed 10 days into the 2023-24 NHL regular season. The mercurial winger hoisted the Stanley Cup last June as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights but was a healthy scratch for most of the playoff run. After participating in captain’s practices with the Golden Knights before training camp, he has been skating on his own, awaiting a contract offer.
According to Chris Johnston of TSN, Kessel declined PTO offers to attend training camps, opting to wait for a guaranteed NHL deal.
Kessel, 36, has 413 goals in 1286 career NHL games. Last season, he set the NHL Ironman record by playing in 1064 consecutive games. However, his offensive production dipped to only 36 points, including 14 goals in 82 games.
Kessel’s Ironman streak began with the Toronto Maple Leafs. On July 1, 2015, the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Kessel. The Penguins won the 2016 Stanley Cup and won again in 2017, making Kessel a two-time Stanley Cup champ. He even received ribbing from then-President of the United States Barack Obama during the Penguins’ 2016 visit to the White House.
Johnston said over the last week, Kessel has had a couple of “close calls” with contract offers. His Ironman streak would continue when he signs a contract, but building on previous reports, Kessel isn’t worried about extending the streak, merely being a part of a team. Per the report, there is an expectation that Kessel will indeed get an NHL contract soon.