‘It unfortunately wasn’t a fit for us’: Canucks elect not to sign veteran winger Phil Kessel to contract

Photo credit:Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
1 month ago
In a bit of a surprise development, the Vancouver Canucks have not signed veteran winger Phil Kessel to a contract.
The trade deadline came and went on Friday afternoon without Kessel putting pen to paper on a contract with the Canucks. The 36-year-old winger had been working out in Abbotsford since February with the goal of eventually signing an NHL deal in Vancouver.
Multiple reputable Vancouver hockey insiders, including Rick Dhaliwal, Thomas Drance, and Irfaan Gaffar, reported shortly after the trade deadline passed on Friday that Kessel and the Canucks did not come to terms on a contract.
Additionally, Drance reported that the Canucks are done for the day and did not make any further moves that have yet to be announced.
Kessel has plenty of connections with the Canucks organization from his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017.
While in Pittsburgh, Kessel developed a strong relationship with then-assistant coach Rick Tocchet, with whom he later reunited with the Arizona Coyotes. Tocchet has served as head coach of the Canucks since midway through the 2022–23 season.
Furthermore, it was Jim Rutherford who originally brought Kessel to Pittsburgh in 2016 as the Penguins’ general manager. Rutherford is now the Canucks’ president of hockey operations; Patrik Allvin, another former Penguins executive, is the GM under Rutherford in Vancouver.
Patrik Allvin spoke about why the team elected not to sign Kessel, saying, “I think Phil is a great person and a well respected player with what he’s done in the league, a three time Stanley Cup winner. He wanted to come back and play… with LTIR, roster complications, and how we want to play, it unfortunately wasn’t a fit for us.”
We’ll have full coverage of the press conference up soon on the site. Check out our live blog of the day’s events by clicking here.

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