Phil Kessel Can Help, But Not Fix, Golden Knights’ Power Play Problems

It might have taken all summer, but Phil Kessel has his new contract. Phil the Thrill is taking his talents to the Vegas Golden Knights on a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

His signing was a low-risk, high-reward move for Vegas, which is the opposite of most moves other people make in Las Vegas.

One of Vegas’s Achilles heels, aside from staying healthy and drafting top prospects, has been their power play. Their lackluster play on the man advantage led them to an unexpected exit in the 2020-2021 NHL playoffs at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.

Throughout that season they ranked 22nd overall throughout the league. Last season was even worse when they ranked 25th in the entire NHL.

Enter Phil Kessel, who is one of the NHL’s contemporary power play performers. Kessel has had 324 of his 1204 career NHL points come on the power play, along with 117 of his 399 career goals.

29.3% of his goals are power play goals, which isn’t incredibly far off from the NHL’s greatest power play performer of all time, Alex Ovechkin, who has had 36.53% of his goals be on the man advantage.

Kessel can contribute on the power play, where the Golden Knights need help.

Okay, Ovechkin has aged much better than Kessel. Kessel also only has 26.92% of his points from last season be power play points, but then again, he was on a “rebuilding” (to put it nicely) Arizona Coyotes squad.

Point is, he should at least marginally help Vegas in an area they desperately need it. That’s what Kessel was originally brought to Arizona to do prior to the 2019-2020 offseason.

It’s a little surprising seeing Kessel projected to be on Vegas’s second power play unit, according to Daily Faceoff. That would still line him up to do damage with the likes of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Shea Theodore.

Nolan Patrick is still projected to be a part of the unit, even though he’s likely headed to the LTIR.

Kessel’s last year in Arizona was odd, to say the least. He had his highest faceoff winning percentage during his time with the Coyotes. Unfortunately, that was still a rather unimpressive 33.33%.

Kessel also had the lowest shooting percentage of his career at 4.6% and the highest penalty minutes of his career with 40. In his previous two seasons with Arizona Kessel had 34 penalty minutes combined.

The best years of Kessel’s career came with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The only time he reached the 90-point mark was in the 2017-2018 season, and he never had less than 59 during his time there.

Of course, the couple of Cups didn’t hurt either. Those teams were filled with a veteran presence, not unlike the situation Kessel is heading to in Vegas. He’s going to a team that more resembles the one he won Cups with instead of the young and rebuilding Arizona team he leaves behind.

Phil Kessel won’t single-handedly solve the Golden Knights power play. Unless he has a secret, hidden goaltending talent, he might not help the team overcome the loss of Robin Lehner for the entire season.

If he can help the power play at least be league average, and let Vegas score every goal it can when the opposition heads to the penalty box, he just might be worth every bit of that $1.5 million.