Blackhawks: Signing Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel - Arizona Coyotes v St Louis Blues
Phil Kessel - Arizona Coyotes v St Louis Blues / Scott Kane/GettyImages

Coyotes forward Phil Kessel very likely won’t return to Arizona next season and after a full year of rumours, he’s going to try and find a new team to call home for the next few seasons. The Blackhawks could use someone like Phil Kessel if they’re looking to add some veteran leadership mixed with scoring, but it will only work if the term isn’t too long and the money isn’t too much. He’s been called a leader by teammates for many seasons on every team he goes to, he’s not currently dealing with any recurring injuries and he can make plays that leads to the puck entering the back of the net and on top of all this, his defensive game is solid. 

The soon to be 35 year old stands at 6’0, 223 pounds. He is 44 points away from 1000 so he’ll be looking to go to a team where he’ll be looked at as an offensive weapon. His 52 points in 82 games proves to everyone that he still has the scoring touch that he’s always had and even though he’s slowing down a little bit, he’s still got some gas left in the tank. In his 3 seasons with the Coyotes, he’s improved his point production. His first season with 38 points, the next with 43 and assuming his last with 52. Thus proving he’s still working to get better and learn every day. 

Signing with the Blackhawks is definitely risky for the team but if they’re looking for a quick rebuild, he’s the perfect candidate while they’re looking to add scoring and veteran leadership as they begin to create a brand new culture. I can’t see Kessel being much more than a middle 6 forward for the majority of the season but he’s got the ability to play anywhere in the lineup wherever he’s needed, thus making him an even better asset to have. 

Should the Blackhawks sign him?

I think he’s been a fan favourite wherever he goes, while being able to play a game that his teammates model themselves after. His drive, grit and overall determination to be the best version of himself makes him a really appealing player. I like the idea of signing him, as long as they don’t overpay. A 1-2 year deal around $1-1.5M is ideal as long as he knows his role on the team. 

If he’s looking for a bigger role, I don’t think he’s going to get it with Chicago. With players like Toews, Kane, Dach, Debrincat and Strome taking up the top 6 spots just to name a few, he would be stepping into a battle. He’d be working his way up the lineup all year, and I don’t think he’d have any issue with that, so I like the idea. He’d be teaching the younger guys the skills that he knows, while showing them what a true leader looks like in the room alongside their captain.