The Vegas Golden Knights announced the signing of one of the biggest names still available on the free agent market: forward Phil Kessel. Per the team announcement, Kessel signed a one-year deal worth $1.5M. Per CapFriendly, Kessel’s contract includes a modified no-trade clause, one that allows Kessel to list 10 teams he is eligible to be traded to.
CapFriendly currently has the Golden Knights as more than $7M over the cap, but that’s with players such as Robin Lehner, Laurent Brossoit and Nolan Patrick on regular injured reserve, rather than long-term injured reserve. Both Lehner and Patrick are expected to miss the entirety of the 2022-23 season, meaning their absences give Vegas the bandwidth under the cap to add Kessel and re-sign RFA defenseman Nicolas Hague.
Kessel, who will soon turn 35 years old, has spent the past three seasons playing for the Arizona Coyotes. In his 208-game career with the Coyotes, Kessel has posted 133 points, which is a healthy 52-point 82-game pace.
Noting an 82-game pace with Kessel’s production is especially relevant due to the fact that he is currently the NHL’s reigning “Iron Man,” meaning he has gone 982 games straight without missing a contest, a steak that dates back to November 2009.
It’s definitely possible that his steak could pose a lineup dilemma for new coach Bruce Cassidy if Kessel struggles in Vegas. Cassidy has the reputation of demanding a lot from his players, and Kessel’s notorious apathy to the defensive side of the game could land him in hot water if he’s not scoring. Still, Kessel remains a talented enough offensive player to confidently project as a contributor in Vegas next season.