How Crazy Would Signing Phil Kessel be for the Nashville Predators?

Oct 24, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Phil Kessel (8) tosses a souvenir to a fan after the Golden Knights defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Phil Kessel (8) tosses a souvenir to a fan after the Golden Knights defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

You thought NHL free agency madness was over? Phil Kessel is still available, and the Nashville Predators shouldn’t be counted out for his services.

It’s that time late in the offseason when you look at the free agents who are still available sitting on the shelf waiting to be picked up, and for the Nashville Predators, what’s one more surprising addition going to hurt?

Without being too sarcastic here, I will say that seeing Phil Kessel still without a team for the quickly approaching 2023-24 season is somewhat of a surprise. I mean, the dude does have over 1,000 straight games played and is one year removed from putting up 50-plus points with the Arizona Coyotes.

Oh, and he’s a three-time Stanley Cup champion. So yeah, all hot dog jokes aside, the dude is a certified winner on the rink even at the ripe age of 35.

Kessel in a Nashville Predators Sweater Isn’t Crazy, Could Be Brilliant

The 35-year-old “Iron Man” Phil Kessel played in all 82 games for the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights while making a modest $1.5 million salary. While his production did drop off from the 52-point campaign the season before with Arizona, 36 points at his age is nothing to just scoff at.

However, who ends up being willing to take on the aging workhorse will be interesting to follow. Kessel has already made it clear he’s ready to give up his Iron Man streak and looks like he just wants to be on a team even if that means he’s not a fulltime starter, per Elliotte Friedman.

Kessel has done what is right up there with some of the most amazing accomplishments in NHL history. In a sport that brutalizes you physically during the course of an 82-game grind, Kessel has a streak of 1,064 consecutive games played in the NHL. Just mind-blowing to be quite honest.

NHL History, Longest Iron Man Streaks 

  1. Phil Kessel- 1,064 Games
  2.  Keith Yandle– 989 Games *Not Active*
  3.  Dough Jarvis- 964 Games *Not Active*
  4.  Garry Unger– 914 Games  *Not Active*
  5.  Patrick Marleau– 910 Games  *Not Active*

The next closest active streak to Kessel’s is Brent Burns with 761 games, and Andrew Cogliano who is still playing had a streak of 830 games that ended in 2018.

Another fun nugget for you, current Nashville Predators Head Coach Andrew Brunette had a streak of 509 consecutive games played that began in 2002 and ended in 2009, good for 25th in NHL history.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty here; how insane is it to even consider the thought of the Predators adding Kessel to a roster that’s already gone through drastic changes since the trade deadline in March and throughout offseason free agency?

On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of insanity, 10 being go get yourself checked out, I’d have to put signing Kessel at a modest “4”. Not insane at all, but definitely would be a slight potential of being a swing and a miss. But really at what cost? Not that bad, to be honest.

Pros and Cons to Kessel Being Added by Nashville Predators

The biggest concern for Predators fans is probably young guys losing playing time. I don’t think that would be an issue with signing Kessel. He’s a third or fourth liner at this point in his career. And on the Predators, probably a third liner.

Here’s my current projected starting forward lines for the Nashville Predators, with third and fourth line right wing being occupied by Gustav Nyquist and Denis Gurianov.

The Predators do have the cap space to sign Kessel to a low end deal around the range of maybe $1.5 million for a one year experiment, but do the Predators really need to be doing experiments right now?

The pushback here is there not being room for Kessel on this Predators roster after the offseason they’ve already had. Not after signing Gustav Nyquist and Denis Gurianov in free agency, and having players like Philip Tomasino and Luke Evangelista that you’re invested in on the wing.

What’s hilarious about this scenario is Nyquist is only two years younger than Kessel and was less efficient in Points Per 60 than Kessel.

Nyquist played in 51 games for 27 points, while Kessel played in all 82 games for 36 points, but the time on ice was drastically different between the players. Kessel averaged just 12:49 TOI, while Nyquist averaged 17:37. So efficiency clearly favors Kessel between the two, at least for last season.

Furthermore, Nyquist’s Corsi-for was considerably lower than Kessel’s, and Kessel brings much more of a power play presence.

If Nyquist isn’t on this team, then Kessel and the Predators are a perfect match. Now with Kessel saying he doesn’t need to be an everyday starter, that’s going to increase interest from some teams. Maybe even the Nashville Predators.

To be quite frank, if the Predators were to add Kessel then signing Gurianov was a waste of money as well, and Kiefer Sherwood isn’t seeing the ice, either. Kessel brings you more than both of them, so possibly the Predators front office has a change of heart and pulls the trigger for a proven game changer who might have a little bit more left in the tank.

I’m not sure where Kessel lands. Probably a team that has a major gap to fill and has no other viable options. Not to say Kessel has nothing to offer anymore, but for the Predators it’s worth at least considering.

If nothing else, the Predators front office is probably wishing they would’ve had a crystal ball back before free agency that Kessel would still be available this late in the offseason.

Kessel on the Predators moves out Sherwood and Gurianov as opening night starter on the fourth line. If he chips in 30-plus points like he did last season for Vegas, then you’re celebrating a home run pickup. Hell, even if Kessel gets your 10-plus goals and around 25 points, you’re elated by that.

Four Players with Most to Gain in Predators Preseason. light. Trending

Would you rather have Sherwood or Gurianov on your fourth line or Kessel? That answer is crystal clear for me; it’s “Phil the Thrill”.

What it really comes down to is whoever takes Kessel at close to a minimal NHL salary isn’t going to be taking a huge risk, and the potential to get a player that can absolutely be a game-changer in your bottom six shouldn’t be overlooked.

So hang onto those dreams you may have of Kessel rocking a Nashville Predators sweater. General Manager Barry Trotz could have a hard time resisting the urge to add the NHL’s Iron Man to the roster right ahead of training camp.