Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel

36-Year-Old Right WingRW
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2023 Fantasy Outlook
The most notable thing Kessel did in 2022-23 was set the NHL's ironman record. By the end of the year, he had extended the record to 1,064 games, and he's lucky only regular-season contests count for the streak. He was scratched for the fifth game of Vegas' postseason run, and he didn't get back into the lineup for a team that enjoyed strong health throughout the playoffs. Kessel is still a free agent in late August, and he'll be 36 years old at the start of the season. There's no guarantee he continues his playing career, and if he does, it may ultimately be a healthy scratch that finally sends him to the press box and ends his ironman streak. Kessel's 36 points in 2022-23 was his lowest total since his rookie year. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Golden Knights in August of 2022.
Working with AHL club
RWFree Agent
February 14, 2024
Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin announced Tuesday that Kessel will work out with AHL Abbotsford this week and could eventually join the parent club.
ANALYSIS
Kessel will likely sign an AHL tryout agreement with Abbotsford before potentially securing an NHL deal with Vancouver. Last season, the 36-year-old winger managed just 14 goals and 22 helpers in 82 games with the Golden Knights before being a healthy scratch for nearly the entirety of the team's Stanley Cup run. With Vancouver, Kessel would likely land in a third-line role but could see plenty of opportunities with the man advantage as a power-play specialist.
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2023–24 Time On Ice Stats
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2021–22
16:41
2:44
0:02
2022–23
12:49
1:27
0:01
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Shawn Hutchinson gives one last round of trade breakdowns and pivots to the fantasy stretch run with some waiver-wire moves.
Latest Fantasy Rumors
Not signing?
RWFree Agent
March 8, 2024
Kessel is no longer expected to sign with the Canucks, Thomas Drance of The Athletic reports Friday.
ANALYSIS
There was previously speculation that Kessel would ink a deal with Vancouver. Barring some last-minute news, it now seems unlikely Kessel will sign with a team at all in 2023-24. The 36-year-old would have needed to sign before Friday's trade deadline in order to be eligible to participate in the 2023-24 playoffs.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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Kessel could have helped a number of playoff teams a season ago, but apparently none of them had any interest in trading for his services, so he spent the entire year with the cellar-dwelling Coyotes. The end result was Kessel posting just eight goals, the lowest total of his 16-year NHL career. On a more positive note, Kessel did crack the 50-point plateau (52) for the twelfth time in the past 14 seasons. Kessel entered unrestricted free agency this offseason and ultimately signed with the Golden Knights on Aug. 24. Playing with a better supporting cast in 2022-23 should allow the veteran winger to enjoy somewhat of a bounce-back year in his age-35 campaign.
An offseason flurry of trade activity has left the Coyotes' forward group looking highly depleted, which isn't good news for an already-declining Kessel. While he led the team with 20 goals last season, he had only 43 points in 56 games -- hardly elite scoring numbers, although an improvement on his 38 points in 70 contests the year before. The question now is who will be feeding pucks to Kessel if he isn't traded away before Opening Night. The 34-year-old shouldn't be counted on to carry the offense by himself, so it's tough to imagine him producing more than 20 goals and 50 points even in an 82-game season. On the bright side, he should see plenty of power-play time with few better options available, and he could be traded into a better situation during the season.
Kessel's production fell off a cliff in his first year with the Coyotes, as he posted just 14 goals and 38 points in 70 appearances. Those were his lowest totals since 2007-08 with the Bruins. It wasn't for a lack of opportunity, as Kessel saw 3:09 per game on the power play and 17:09 per game overall in 2019-20. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say the 33-year-old has started to decline, and the Coyotes' weak team offense won't make a rebound easy in 2020-21. Kessel also had just 153 shots last year, a career-low total. Without a heavy shooting volume or strong supporting cast, the Wisconsin native shouldn't be expected to chip in more than 50 points.
Over the course of his four seasons in Pittsburgh, Kessel racked up 110 goals and 193 assists, including 125 power-play points, in 328 games. The enigmatic winger picked up a pair of Stanley Cup championships while in the Steel City, but didn't always seem to see eye-to-eye with coach Mike Sullivan, especially toward the end of his tenure with the Penguins. The Madison, Wisconsin native will reunite with former Pens assistant coach Rick Tocchet in Arizona this season, which was the biggest reason he was willing to approve a move to the desert. The 31-year-old veteran will be the focal point of the 'Yotes offense both at even strength and with the man advantage this year. However, since he'll no longer be playing with the elite supporting cast he was surrounded with in Pittsburgh, it wouldn't be a shock to see Kessel's productivity dip a little this campaign, especially early on. Nonetheless, the 2006 first-round pick's raw talent should ultimately win out, so fantasy owners can count on him putting up 25-plus goals and 75-plus points for a third straight season in 2019-20, making him a high-end option in all formats.
At this point, it's safe to assume Kessel will remain in Pittsburgh for the upcoming season. As perennial buyers at the trade deadline, shedding the elite-level winger midseason is unlikely to improve the squad. Coming off a 2017-18 campaign in which he set career highs in assists (58) and points (92), the price tag GM Jim Rutherford had on “Phil the Thrill” was thought to be too high for any team to seriously consider making a move. The Wisconsin native hasn't missed a regular-season game since the 2009-10 campaign, which speaks to his durability. Sure, detractors have their qualms about his conditioning, yet he's still averaged 18:17 of ice time in his career. Kessel can play with just about anyone, but he was at his best when paired with Evgeni Malkin, so he's likely to lobby for that spot in training camp in preparation for the 2018-19 campaign.
Kessel, who’s now a two-time Stanley Cup champion, amassed 23 goals, 47 helpers, and a career-high 30 power-play points during the 2016-17 regular season, and he also factored into 23 scoring plays during the playoffs. The sniper averaged 17:56 of ice time per contest -- third among Pens’ forwards, behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- which actually was a slight drop in rink-run compared to his previous seasons. Still, prospective fantasy owners concerned about Kessel’s minutes should consider that he hasn't missed a game since the 2009-10 season. Much maligned in Toronto, the 29-year-old continues to thrive in Pittsburgh, as the pressure of being the No. 1 guy falls on Crosby’s shoulders and not his own. Phil the Thrill, indeed.
The pundits had Kessel shooting for a 50-goal campaign after he made the move to join Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh last year, but his season started painfully – the winger managed just nine goals and 18 points through 32 games. With the team struggling in December, the Pens fired coach Mike Johnston and replaced him with Mike Sullivan; soon after the regime change, Kessel (along with the rest of the Penguins) suddenly dialed up his game, notching 17 goals and 41 points over 50 contests. Of course, that total of 26 goals still fell well short of expectations, as did his 17 power-play points. Surprisingly, though, Kessel ended up forming a supercharged new unit with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino, becoming the ‘K’ in the HBK Line, arguably Pittsburgh’s best trio in the playoffs. For his part, Kessel piled up 10 goals and 22 points over 24 postseason games, narrowly losing out to Crosby for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Now, fantasy owners should look for him to carry that strong finish into the new season, regardless of which line he’s on.
Kessel saw a big downturn in production for a struggling Leafs team last year, with his goal total falling by a dozen, his point total by 19, and his plus/minus by a whopping 29 ticks from the season before. But he's since been shipped to Pittsburgh, where he's slated to make up one of the most explosive top lines in hockey alongside Sidney Crosby. That's quite a large upgrade over being fed by Tyler Bozak. Kessel thus stands to see a return to his old 80-point days, and with Crosby's expert puck distribution working in his favor, he could quite reasonably hit 40 goals for the first time. His tendency to stay on the ice -- Kessel hasn't missed a game in five years -- will also play well on a Penguins team that has been highly injury-prone for the last few years.
Kessel is a polarizing guy -- some fans love him while others say you can't build a team around him, either on the ice or in fantasy. We beg to differ, particularly in the fantasy arena. Phil the Thrill is one of the most consistent, elite players in the NHL. He has notched at least 20 goals in each of his last six seasons and would have had at least 30 in each if it weren’t for the lockout. He's also rung up at least 30 assists in each of his last four seasons and year-over-year, he's a model of consistency in shots on goal, shooting percentage, power-play production and more. Surprisingly, he does it the hard way -- advanced metrics will show you that he creates all of this offense despite starting 37.8 percent of his shifts (2013-14) in the defensive zone. That's unheard of; he only started 28.4 percent of his shifts last season in the offensive zone, but finished sixth overall in scoring and fifth in goals. Just compare those start zones to Patrick Kane, who scored fewer points despite starting 44.3 percent of his shifts in the opponent's zone (and just 19.4 percent in his own). Forty goals and 95 points will come either this season or next for Mr. Kessel, perhaps earning him some respect around the league along the way.
What's next for Phil the Thrill? He finished 2012-13 in seventh place in NHL scoring with 52 points in 42 games and he showed off a selfless playmaking ability (32 assists) that few ever thought possible. And he has picked up an impressive 134 points in 130 games over the last two seasons. He turns 26 at the start of the season and his best is yet to come. Expect at least 30 goals and a point per game in 2013-14 ... and maybe even a little bit more. He'll be motivated by the thought of a beefy new contract next offseason, so he might even crack the league's top-five scorers.
Another season, another center -- that's the life and times of Phil Kessel. But, honestly -- will that matter? Kessel finished sixth in NHL scoring last season with 82 points and his 37 goals tied for sixth while Tyler Bozak, a guy who's better suited to the third line, was dishing him the puck. Kessel demonstrated tremendous growth in his game last year -- he showed up on the backcheck (go figure) and shed the inconsistent label, as his longest point drought was a whopping three games. He's arguably the NHL's best right winger and that's without a top pivot. So who knows what might be possible with big (and talented) James van Riemsdyk setting him up. He'll be a top-five scorer regardless. Snap him up early.
General manager Brian Burke finally has a top-line center in Tim Connolly to feed Kessel the puck. So does that mean this explosive sniper finally hits 40 goals? There are no guarantees in life but we like the odds if both he and Connolly can stay healthy. Cripes, Kessel proved he can often single-handedly carry his line and produce on his own. He even showed a maturity in his game with fewer droughts later in the season. He even amped things up in the last third of the season, potting 28 points in his last 26 games. Connolly will help Phil the Thrill improve his power-play production significantly so bid early -- right wing is a fantasy vacuum and this guy could easily be one of the top three goal scorers at his position.
Number 81 can flat-out fly. And unlike most other NHLers, he can snipe at top speed. Ahhhh, that wrist shot is one of the best of this generation. His skills are supreme but is he a point-per-game player? Probably not. He's not the kind of guy who can carry his NHL team -- he needs a strong supporting cast (and that's not something he has yet in Toronto). But he will bring your fantasy squad 35 to 40 goals and 65 points this year. Just be cautious in head-to-head leagues -- his production comes in fits and spurts.
Kessel, who is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery that may keep him out of action until mid-November, remains an unsigned restricted free agent. With a trade or offer sheet from another team looking increasingly unlikely, the gifted sniper should be back in a Boston uniform this season. Just 21 years old, Kessel is blessed with electric speed, shiftiness, and a quick shooting release, traits that helped him notch a team-high 36 goals in 70 games last season. Critics say that he shies away from contact and can be smothered by tight checking, but young players with 50-goal potential don't grow on trees, so he’s a player the Bruins are going to try their best to bring him back, even though they are tight against the salary cap at press time.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that Kessel is just 20 years old, but he already has 152 regular season games under his belt and the hope is that his strength and all-around game eventually catch up to his world-class upside on offense. One great sign is that in the playoffs, he showed some mental toughness when he bounced back from three straight scratches with a bang, netting three goals in his next two games, rather than getting down on himself. He's still a work in progress and consistency will be an issue, but those in keeper leagues should note that Kessel has 30- or 40-goal potential once he matures.
Kessel would have cracked the 30-point mark last year, his rookie season, if not for the 11 games he missed after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer in December. If he can stick on one of the Bruins' top two scoring lines, he should easily finish the year in the 50-60 point range.
Kessel is an 18 years old stud but really, how many kids that age can be fantasy frontliners in their first season? In a standard, 12-team league, you should really only carry guys who are guaranteed to score at least 60 points this coming year. Don't get us wrong -- Kessel is going to be a fantastic player. But to expect a ruddy-faced teenager to not only put up the points but also do so with consistency is just asking for trouble. But if you're in a keeper league, you need to take a different kind of look at Kessel who will be the cornerstone for any fantasy franchise in a few very short years.
Kessel is, in a word, electric. This kid hits top speed in just a couple of strides and can go end-to-end in seconds. His on-ice vision is superb, too good perhaps for his collegiate teammates who simply weren't ready for his rocket passes in 2006-07. Sure, his stock slipped a little in his draft year, but this kid will be an impact offensive player in the NHL in a couple short years. Think a combo of Brett Hull and Pat Lafontaine -- yes, he's that good.
More Fantasy News
Not in lineup Thursday
RWVegas Golden Knights  Free Agent
Coach's Decision
April 27, 2023
Kessel will be a healthy scratch Thursday versus Winnipeg, according to Jesse Granger of The Athletic.
ANALYSIS
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Picks up pair of helpers
RWVegas Golden Knights  Free Agent
April 20, 2023
Kessel logged two assists and two hits in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Jets in Game 2.
ANALYSIS
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Contributes two points in win
RWVegas Golden Knights  Free Agent
April 6, 2023
Kessel scored a goal on four shots, added an assist and went plus-3 in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Kings.
ANALYSIS
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Snags helper Tuesday
RWVegas Golden Knights  Free Agent
April 4, 2023
Kessel produced an assist and blocked two shots in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Predators.
ANALYSIS
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On five-game point streak
RWVegas Golden Knights  Free Agent
March 28, 2023
Kessel posted an assist in Tuesday's 7-4 loss to the Oilers.
ANALYSIS
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