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Veteran UFA Kessel still hoping to play in the NHL this season

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Veteran free agent forward Phil Kessel is still hoping to suit up for an 18th season in the NHL this year as he remains unsigned.  

The 36-year-old appeared in all 82 regular-season games for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2022-23, scoring 14 goals with 36 points. In the playoffs, he appeared in four games and recorded two assists as Vegas went on to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun said Kessel’s camp is in contact with a couple of teams around the league with the NHL’s trade deadline just over a month away.

“I’ve checked in on that over the last day and the answer is that he still absolutely hopes to catch on with an NHL team,” said LeBrun on Tuesday’s Insider Trading. “He has not given up hope. His camp is still in contact with a couple of teams. One of the things in consideration here is that, because he hasn’t played since last year, is that there might be a team or two that says “Hey come and skate with us for a bit so we can take a look at you and see where things are.

“He’s been skating and trying to stay ready. After Zach Parise and Corey Perry found homes, could it be a hat trick with Phil Kessel finding a home before March 8? We’ll see.”

Kessel currently holds the NHL record of consecutive games played in the regular season with 1,064. He is the only player in NHL history to play 1,000 consecutive games.

Drafted fifth overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2006 NHL Draft, Kessel has won three Stanley Cup championships in his career (2016, 2017 and 2023) and is a three-time All-Star. In 2007, he took home the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Internationally, he helped the United States earn silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Madison, Wisc., product has scored 413 goals with 579 assists in 1,286 career NHL games split between the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes and Golden Knights. In 100 postseason games, he has scored 34 goals with 83 points.