The Vancouver Canucks announced today that unrestricted free agent forward Phil Kessel would be working out this week in Abbotsford, presumably with the Canucks AHL squad. Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin told the media that the three-time Stanley Cup champion would be taking reps in the Vancouver area in what could become a reunion of sorts between Kessel, head coach Rick Tocchet and much of the Canucks management group. Kessel, Jim Rutherford, Tocchet, and Allvin won two Stanley Cups together with the Pittsburgh Penguins and could be the favorites to do the same in Vancouver.
Kessel has surprisingly remained unsigned despite being the NHL’s reigning Iron Man. He sits just eight points shy of 1000 for his career and was still productive last season posting 14 goals and 22 assists in 82 games on his way to a third career Stanley Cup.
Kessel has remained adamant that he wanted to continue playing and it looks as though he could do so if things go right in Vancouver. The 36-year-old isn’t the offensive threat he once was, but he remains an excellent passer and should have enough in the tank to be a good depth scoring option and a power play specialist.
His best years came in Pittsburgh while Tocchet was an assistant coach for the Penguins. He and Kessel appear to share a special relationship, and it seems that Tocchet has always been able to help Kessel find another gear in his game. If Kessel can show he has enough left in the tank and sign a contract, it could add another redemption arc to the Phil Kessel story.