Offseason Player Grades: Phil Kessel

Statistics (Regular Season)

82 GP, 23 G, 47 A, 70 PTS, +3 +/-, 20 PIM

Statistics (Postseason)

25 GP, 8 G, 15 A, 23 PTS, +12 +/-, 2 PIM

Player Grade: A-

Mr. Ironman Phil Kessel played a full 82 game season once again and played in all of the Penguins’ 25 playoff games.  Kessel had 70 points in the regular season and 23 in the postseason, but only totaled 31 goals in those 107 games.  Although I do agree that Kessel’s playmaking ability is underrated, he was brought here to score goals, and I feel like Kessel has the skill and the shot to score 30+ every year playing alongside Malkin.  I would like to see Kessel score more, but past that, there are not many complaints.

Kessel once again brought his best game in the playoffs, producing at almost a point per game, ending with a +12, only 2 PIM, and a huge goal against the Senators which gave the Penguins a much needed game 2 win at home.  What isn’t there to like about Phil Kessel?

Preview

Kessel started the season as many thought: playing on the right wing with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino and completing the 2016 line of the playoffs, the HBK line.  That line, however, completely failed the Penguins this year, and looked awful when they did play together.  The same chemistry just was not there this year, and so Kessel spent most of the season with Malkin, and I’d like to think that he will begin there next year, too.  As I stated above I would like to see Kessel score more goals, but if he doesn’t he needs to keep producing points like he has been and be a continuous powerplay threat.

Review

Kessel continued to do what he usually does: put up points, score on the powerplay, and continues to rise to a different level in the playoffs.  Kessel began to receive some rough words from the media during a span of the playoffs where he had been quiet, but they said this despite Kessel producing 23 points in 25 games in the postseason.  I think Pittsburgh is the best fit in the NHL for Kessel and I would imagine that he stays at least until the end of his contract.

Conclusion

The Penguins have accepted Phil Kessel for the player that he is and the player that he isn’t.  He isn’t extremely effective defensively, nor is he always super aggressive on the forecheck, but he provides a finishing touch that the Penguins have desperately needed throughout the years.  Kessel not only provides offense, but brings his best game in the postseason, and nearly won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year.  I could not be more happy that Rutherford traded Kessel, and it is great to see him play as a Penguin.

Oh, and Phil Kessel is now a 2-time Stanley Cup Champion.

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