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Latest on free agents Kane, Kessel as training camps near

New York Rangers Patrick Kane - The Canadian Press

Veteran forwards Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel both remain free agents with NHL training camps set to open later this month.

TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston joined TSN Radio 1050 Toronto on Tuesday to give an update on the status of both wingers as the season draws closer.

Kane, 34, underwent hip resurfacing surgery on June 1 and was given a timeline of four-to-six months for recovery. He told the Associated Press last week he has resumed skating, but doesn't plan to rush back.

Johnston disputed the notion Kane has focused in on the Detroit Red Wings as a landing spot, stating the three-time Stanley Cup champion is keeping his options open.

"It's curious how he's handled this – I actually like it – it's a little different than what players do, but right from the get-go he decided he wasn't really going to think about trying to find a place to play July 1," Johnston said. "Since he's not going to be ready for the start of the season, even as well as his recovery's gone from the hip procedure, he wanted to see how things developed, which teams he thought might be the best fit... I don't know that he's focused on just the one team. I think that there's a couple different situations that would probably be appealing.

"He's got the luxury of, first of all, being Patrick Kane. I think a lot of teams will always be interested given the resumé and all that he's accomplished during his career. He can take a little bit more of a wait and see in terms of where the offers are, where the teams are at, before making a choice. He's indicated he would sign tomorrow for the right deal, but if that deal doesn't show up, I think that he'll continue to sort of gauge things as he works his way back and probably the best news of all, of course, is that it does seem as though he's in a much better place after electing to have that hip surgery. He's been able to skate much sooner than they thought. 

"I don't think he's going to rush anything back in terms of his timeline for recovery and so he might not play until November or December, and in the meantime he can sort of size up where he thinks it's best for him to continue his career."

Kane split last season between the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Rangers, having been moved at the trade deadline. He posted 21 goals and 57 points over 73 games between the two teams, adding one goal and six points in seven playoff games as the Rangers were eliminated in the first round.

Kessel to Continue Career?

Kessel won his third Stanley Cup in the spring with the Vegas Golden Knights, though he served as a healthy scratch for the majority of the team's playoff run.

The 35-year-old winger holds the NHL's ironman streak, which remains active at 1,064 games, but has stated he would be willing to see the streak end in order to extend his career.

Still, it appears the market has yet form for Kessel, who posted 14 goals and 36 points in 82 games last season.

"Well, it hasn't been that significant, right?" Johnston said when asked of the interest in Kessel on the open market. "He's sitting here this close to camp without a new contract. I think it's probably important that he's signaled that he's willing to have his consecutive game steak – he has the No. 1 spot in NHL history now – that he's willing to let that go. He's not looking for a team that's going to commit to playing him 82 games in the season, he just wants to play.

"He's fine at this stage in his career taking, probably, not a big contract and [he's] not expecting a massive role. I do think that will ultimately help him find a place but who knows? Maybe, if push comes to shove, it's going to have to start with a tryout somewhere...

"He can still put up some numbers. I think he can still be of use of teams on the power play but unfortunately time stops for no one and Phil's at the stage of his career now where he's going to be scrambling to find something. I think he ultimately will because his desire is so strong to play, but it's going to look a little different than even it has these past few seasons where he still managed to play every game in Arizona and in Vegas last season."

Kessel currently sits 11th among active players with 992 points and 12th in goals with 413 over his 1,286 career games.