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Phil Kessel Return to Penguins Unlikely Amid Team’s New Strategy

Slim odds exist for Phil Kessel’s return to the Penguins as their roster strategy leans toward checking-line play.

Phil Kessel, a seasoned free agent in the NHL, has garnered significant attention due to his willingness to embrace a lesser role on a team this coming season, even if it jeopardizes his remarkable Iron Man streak. While fans have speculated about where he might wind up, a potential reunion with the Pittsburgh Penguins has been floated out there, a city where Kessel enjoyed four successful seasons, securing two Stanley Cups in his first two years.

Phil Kessel Penguins reunion rumors

Kessel’s time with the Penguins was marked by extraordinary consistency, as he never missed a game in four seasons and contributed significantly to the team’s success. His impressive tally of 303 total points (110 goals and 193 assists) showcased his offensive prowess, especially when paired with Evgeni Malkin. His impact extended beyond even-strength play, as he was a vital factor on the power play. While the Penguins look to add to the team’s forward depth and potentially add a potent weapon on the power play, the question about if Kessel fits and if the Penguins might consider him makes some sense.

However, the odds of such a homecoming seem rather slim, according to Dave Molinari of Pittsburgh Hockey Now. Molinari highlights that the current roster strategy of the Pittsburgh Penguins is oriented towards strengthening their bottom-six players and finding two-way players who can help on both ends of the ice. Seeing as Kessel is primarily an offensive guy and his production will keep slowing as he ages, there are potentially too many hurdles to jump to make it work.

Kessel doesn’t make sense if Kyle Dubas is looking to build a strong checking-line, and to try and squeeze Kessel into a role that isn’t natural for him, especially when you factor in his history with coach Mike Sullivan, bringing him back doesn’t fit the team’s overall direction.

Kessel’s relationship with Sullivan is well documented. While some of the issues may be overblown and both parties have downplayed differences, it remains challenging to envision Sullivan actively advocating for Kessel’s return.

While the prospect of Phil Kessel rejoining the Pittsburgh Penguins may tantalize fans, the team’s current direction and emphasis on specific player attributes cast doubt on the likelihood of such a reunion. As the NHL offseason unfolds, Kessel’s future destination will remain a topic of intrigue and speculation.

Next: Bruins Eye Shane Pinto Amid Senators’ Contract Uncertainty



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