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Phil Kessel’s Ironman Streak Likely Costing Him an NHL Contract

Phil Kessel seeks a team for 2023-24, yet his NHL ironman streak raises concerns about signing him.

Phil Kessel, a three-time Stanley Cup champion and current NHL unrestricted free agent, remains eager to continue his career in the 2023-24 season. However, finding a suitable team has proven challenging, not due to his lack of production or expected high costs, but rather the unique pressure associated with potentially disrupting his NHL ironman streak.

Elliotte Friedman pointed out in an article on Thursday that Kessel holds the remarkable title of the NHL’s Ironman, standing as the sole player in league history to have played in over 1,000 consecutive games. His ongoing streak has reached an impressive 1,064 games, a notable 75 games beyond the record set by Keith Yandle. Notably, Kessel’s consecutive games record doesn’t encompass postseason play.

Informing prospective teams about this feat is crucial, as ending such streaks can entail significant stress unless the player is on board. In other words, if you’re a team looking to sign a forward and your options are Player A (someone who you’ll be afraid to bench because of the backlash of ending their streak), or Player B (someone you can move up and down, in and out of the lineup), teams will choose Player B. Because Kessel is Player A, unless he tells teams he doesn’t care about the streak, there will be hesitancy to bring him in.

Phil Kessel NHL ironman streak costing him opportunities

A telling example transpired in the 2020-21 season when Florida teammates vehemently opposed the idea of benching Yandle at the start of the season. Yandle ultimately maintained his streak, playing every game.

Phil Kessel Can Still Help An NHL Team

Despite being 35 years old, Kessel’s impact remains palpable, evident from his 14 goals and 36 points in the previous season. Another advantage in his favor (because of his age) is his eligibility to sign a one-year minimum contract with potential bonuses that can slide to the following season. Given the current cap space constraints, Kessel’s availability offers a significant benefit to teams in search of scoring prowess.

It’s the responsibility to help him reach the 1,000-point milestone and making sure you’re not the team to snap the streak that is hurting him right now.

As the 2023-24 season approaches, the quest to find a new home for Kessel continues. His remarkable Ironman streak, production capabilities, and adaptable contract options make him an appealing option for teams aiming to bolster their offensive capabilities while navigating the complexities of the current financial landscape.

Next: Golden Knights Could Chase Pettersson Amid Other Contract Talks

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