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Kessel anxious to return to NHL, expected to join a team

Vegas Golden Knights Phil Kessel - Getty Images

Free agent Phil Kessel is itching to return for an 18th NHL season and is expected to find a landing spot, TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston reports.

Kessel, 36, went unsigned after spending last season with the Vegas Golden Knights, but sitting out the majority of the team’s playoff run. 

"Anyone who thought seeing him his third Stanley Cup and going a whole summer without a firm contract offer might deter him, well think again," Johnston said on Insider Trading Thursday. "Phil Kessel is very anxious to return to the NHL. He's been skating on his own. He didn't want to go to any training camps on a tryout, but it sounds as though he's had a couple of close calls with contracts here in the last week or two and there is an expectation he will join a team.

"I think it's interesting as well, he is the NHL's ironman with a little more than 1,060 consecutive games. That streak will technically continue if he signed somewhere and started playing games, but I don't think it's that important to Kessel. He's not setting that as on contingent on where he signs. I think he just wants to be a member of a team and wants a chance to continue living the dream."

Kessel scored 14 goals and added 22 assists in 82 games last season with Vegas. The winger appeared in four playoff games as the Golden Knights defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the first round, but was a scratch for the remainder of the team's run. 

He played out last season on a one-year, $1.5 million deal as he extended to the ironman streak to 1,064 games.

Kessel currently sits 11th among active players with 992 points and 12th in goals with 413 over his 1,286 career games split between the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes and Golden Knights.