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Phil Kessel Open to Depth Role: A Fit for the Edmonton Oilers?

Veteran NHL scorer Phil Kessel seems willing to embrace a depth role; could Edmonton Oilers be interested?

NHL veteran Phil Kessel, renowned for his remarkable longevity and goal-scoring prowess, is signaling a willingness to embrace a depth role with teams around the league. While some teams may hesitate due to concerns about potentially ending his Ironman streak, the Edmonton Oilers could consider exploring this intriguing opportunity.

Elliotte Friedman, a respected NHL insider with a reputation for being very plugged into what’s going on with players, recently shared this development, highlighting Kessel’s shift in priorities. No longer fixated on playing time or his legacy as a top goal scorer, Kessel appears open to adapting to a more supportive role.

One of the primary concerns for teams contemplating signing Kessel is the possibility of halting his record-setting ironman streak. This unique accomplishment holds sentimental value for many, and not all teams may be comfortable with the prospect of ending it. However, Kessel and his management seem aware of this hurdle and aim to alleviate concerns by taking this step.

Friedman noted that Kessel’s most significant detail in his message to teams is his readiness to embrace a non-everyday player role, signaling his flexibility and adaptability.

Despite his limited deployment during the Stanley Cup playoffs, Kessel showcased his point-producing ability last season with the Vegas Golden Knights. His participation in all 82 games resulted in 14 goals and 22 assists, totaling 36 points. Kessel now hopes to find new success in a reduced role during the upcoming season.

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Kessel’s extensive NHL journey, which includes stints with the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes, and Vegas Golden Knights, has allowed him to build relationships across the league. This network may work to his advantage as he explores potential opportunities.

The Oilers Could Potentially Use a Player Like Kessel

For the Edmonton Oilers, who seek cost-effective players capable of contributing, Kessel’s availability could provide intriguing options. With limited salary cap room and invites already extended to Brandon Sutter and Sam Gagner on professional tryout contracts, Kessel’s willingness to explore a depth role aligns with the Oilers’ objectives.

Phil Kessel NHL ironman streak costing him opportunities

The Oilers used to have a player like this on their roster in Devin Shore, but he recently signed on with the Seattle Kraken. He wasn’t likely to return to Edmonton and Kessel, it can be argued, is a significant upgrade.

Kessel’s durability and reliability, despite not fitting the traditional mold of an elite athlete, make him a valuable asset. His reputation as a teammate has improved over the years, making him a more coachable player. If injuries were to strike the Oilers, who are likely starting the season with a 21-man roster, and probably shy of a forward, Kessel’s experience could be seen as a value add.

What Is Kessel Willing to Accept on A New Deal?

To make this potential partnership work, Kessel may need to accept a deal close to the league minimum salary or even consider a professional tryout offer if securing an NHL contract proves challenging. It’s not clear exactly how open he is to doing so.

As the summer rolls along and Kessel doesn’t find a new home, things can change. In any case, the Edmonton Oilers might want to keep their eyes and ears open regarding this situation and if he’s available, they could have an intriguing option to explore as they navigate the complexities of roster building for the upcoming season.

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