Phil Kessel will become the 335th player in NHL history and the 21st active player to skate in 1,000 regular-season games when he steps on the ice for the Arizona Coyotes against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-A, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV).
The 32-year-old forward is in his first season with the Coyotes, his fourth NHL team, after being acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 29. The native of Madison, Wisconsin, is a two-time Stanley Cup winner (Pittsburgh, 2016 and 2017) and a six-time 30-goal scorer who has been among the NHL’s most consistent, durable point producers for more than a decade. His 824 points (357 goals, 467 assists) are 16th all-time among U.S.-born players, and he’ll play his 778th consecutive regular-season game.
Here is a timeline of Kessel’s NHL career:
June 24, 2006: Drafted by Bruins before awarded Masterton Trophy
Kessel, who had 51 points (18 goals, 33 assists) in 39 games as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, is selected by the Boston Bruins with the No. 5 pick in the the 2006 NHL Draft. He’s on Boston’s opening-night roster for the 2006-07 season but is hospitalized with testicular cancer in December. Kessel has surgery and misses 11 games. He finishes the season with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 70 games. His fight against cancer is recognized at the 2007 NHL Awards when he wins the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey.
April 12, 2009: Hat trick caps first 30-goal season
Kessel ends the 2008-09 season with a flourish, scoring three goals and assisting on another in a 6-2 victory against the New York Islanders on the final day of the regular season. Kessel, who finishes the season with 36 goals, helps the Bruins sweep their archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before they lose their second-round series to the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime of Game 7. Kessel finishes with 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 11 postseason games.
Sept. 18, 2009: Traded to Toronto
The Toronto Maple Leafs, in need of offense, send first- and second-round picks in the 2010 NHL Draft and a first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft to the Bruins for the 21-year-old, then sign him to a five-year contract. Offseason shoulder surgery limits Kessel to 70 games, but he reaches the 30-goal mark again and finishes with 55 points. He also helps the United States win a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
April 20, 2013: Back to the playoffs
For the second straight season, Kessel is a point-a-game player, finishing with 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in a 48-game, lockout-shortened season. His two assists in a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on April 20 help the Maple Leafs clinch their first playoff berth since 2004. Kessel helps Toronto stay alive in its first-round series against Boston by scoring the winning goal in Game 6, and he has a goal and an assist to help the Maple Leafs take a 4-1 lead in the third period of Game 7. But the Bruins rally to tie the game in the final two minutes of the third period before winning 5-4 in overtime. Kessel signs an eight-year contract extension that will begin at the start of the 2014-15 season and run through 2021-22.
July 1, 2015: Pittsburgh-bound
After scoring 37 goals in 2013-14, his fifth straight full season of at least 30 goals, and again making the U.S. Olympic Team (this time earning All-Tournament honors), Kessel drops to 61 points (25 goals, 36 assists) in 2014-15. That leads to weeks of trade rumors, which end on July 1, 2015, when the rebuilding Maple Leafs trade him to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kessel scores in his second game with the Penguins on Oct. 10 and plays his 500th consecutive game on Dec. 19, becoming the 23rd player in NHL history to reach that milestone.
June 12, 2016: Sipping from the Cup
Kessel has 59 points (26 goals, 33 assists) in 82 regular-season games for the Penguins in 2015-16. But in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the “HBK Line” of Carl Hagelin at left wing, Nick Bonino at center and Kessel at right wing is dominant. Kessel leads Pittsburgh with 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists), helping the Penguins win their first championship since 2009. He finishes second to Sidney Crosby in voting for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
June 11, 2017: Two-time champion
Though Kessel finishes 2016-17 with 23 goals, his fewest in a full season since 2007-08, he has an NHL career-high 47 assists and ends the season with 70 points, the most he has had in a full a season since 2013-14. But for the second straight time he steps up in the playoffs, finishing with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) to help the Penguins become the first team since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. With the Cup Final against the Nashville Predators tied, Kessel scores a goal and assists on two others to key a 6-0 victory in Game 5.
April 6, 2018: Plenty of points but no three-peat
Kessel finishes second on Pittsburgh with NHL career highs of 58 assists and 92 points, and his 34 goals include six game-winners. But the Penguins’ bid for a three-peat comes up short when they are eliminated by the Washington Capitals in six games in the Eastern Conference Second Round.
June 29, 2019: New beginning in Arizona
Though Kessel averages a point a game (82 points; 27 goals, 55 assists in 82 games) for the Penguins in 2018-19, Pittsburgh drops to third place in the Metropolitan Division and is swept by the New York Islanders in the first round. He’s traded to the Coyotes on June 29, 2019, for forward Alex Galchenyuk, reuniting Kessel with Rick Tocchet, who was an assistant with the Penguins during their Cup-winning years before taking over as coach of the Coyotes.