NHL Rumors: Cup Contender Out West "Poking Around" On Phil Kessel

It's not often that there's a three-time Stanley Cup champion still around for the taking on the free agent market at this time of year, but Phil Kessel is out there, skating and staying ready for a call. 

We reported at the end of January that Kessel's camp has been in contact with a couple of teams, and he's looking for someone to have him in for a skate and a look-see.

According to insider Rick Dhaliwal, the Vancouver Canucks are "poking around" on the NHL's Ironman.

I can tell you right now that the Vancouver Canucks still talk and discuss Kessel. They keep in regular contact with his agent. They like his experience... (Head coach) Rick Tocchet said this about him last week in Toronto: 'There's value in Phil, I think he can still play 100%.'  
The Kessel decision, I'm told, is not far away. Some say soon... But the Canucks are poking around on Phil Kessel.

There is one caveat, however, for the Canucks, or any other team that's considering bringing in the 36-year-old: is he anywhere close to NHL shape?  

The big issue is conditioning. He has not played in eight months... That will be Kessel's biggest issue: Are you in shape? The No. 1 thing Tocchet did when he got to Vancouver? Get everyone in shape."

Kessel last played on Apr. 24 early in the Vegas Golden Knights' Stanley Cup playoff run. In fact, he only played four games throughout the two-month run. 

But Kessel is still the NHL's Ironman, his current regular season streak still alive at 1,024 games. He has said he'd be willing to have the streak snapped in order to sign on and help a team in a more minimal role, in any way he can.

Last year with the Golden Knights, he played just under 13 minutes a night, and compiled 14 goals and 36 points, in... of course, 82 games.

In his 17-year career, Kessel has recorded 413 goals and 579 assists for 992 points in 1,286 games, suiting up for the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Phoenix Coyotes and Vegas. 

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