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It’s not often you see a player who skated in every regular season game missing time in the playoffs while healthy, but that’s been the case out in Vegas. 

Golden Knights forward Phil Kessel has notably been absent from the Vegas lineup recently. As Vegas is taking part in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final against Florida, the two-time Stanley Cup champion has a chance to add a third ring, but he may not play a major role in doing so. 

The veteran forward did not appear at all in either of the Golden Knights’ last two series against Stars in the Western Conference, or the Oilers in the second round. He has yet to make an appearance against the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final. 

Kessel was one of just three players on the team to dress for every single regular season contest, joining William Karlsson and Brayden McNabb.

In 82 games this year, the 35-year-old had 14 goals and 22 assists. His 36 points were the lowest in his career since his rookie season back in 2006-07. 

NHL PLAYOFFS: FULL BRACKET | PREDICTIONS | SCHEDULE

The Sporting News explains Kessel’s absence from the Golden Knights’ lineup. 

Why is Phil Kessel not in the Golden Knights lineup?

Kessel has been a healthy scratch in the Golden Knights lineup. He is healthy, but head coach Bruce Cassidy has elected to go with different personnel at forward. 

The first four games of the playoffs had Kessel in the Golden Knights’ lineup, but he has not hit the ice since Game 4 against Winnipeg in the first round. His removal from the lineup coincided with William Carrier’s return. 

Carrier had been out since the beginning of March with a lower-body injury. He returned for Game 5 against Winnipeg and has been in the lineup ever since. 

Cassidy has elected to go with other options like Michael Amadio and Teddy Blueger instead of Kessel this postseason. Amadio and Blueger are better defensive players than the veteran Kessel, and considering the rest of the talented offensive options in the Vegas lineup, Kessel isn’t as needed as years prior. 

Vegas dealt with a few injuries during the season, most notably to Mark Stone, who missed the last three months of the regular season. With Vegas now completely healthy at forward, Kessel has been the odd man out. 

Phil Kessel playoff stats

Kessel isn’t the same player he used to be. In his prime, he played a critical role for the Penguins in the playoffs, including back-to-back postseasons in 2016 and 2017 where he averaged just under a point-per-game. It’s no coincidence that Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in both of those years. 

The last two seasons, Kessel missed the postseason while playing in Arizona. The run with the Golden Knights is the ninth playoff for Kessel in his NHL career. 

Season Team Games Goals Assists Points
2007-08 Boston Bruins 4 3 1 4
2008-09 Boston Bruins 11 6 5 11
2012-13 Toronto Maple Leafs 7 4 2 6
2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins 24 10 12 22
2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins 25 8 15 23
2017-18 Pittsburgh Penguins 12 1 8 9
2018-19 Pittsburgh Penguins 4 1 1 2
2019-20 Arizona Coyotes 9 1 3 4
2022-23 Vegas Golden Knights 4 0 2 2



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