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Monday, August 29, 2016

Prolonged Recovery from Surgery May Delay Kessel's Season

#ThreeWordsToRuinYourDay: No Phil Kessel

This simple, yet concerning, hash tag may actually come to reality as word has broke that right winger, Phil Kessel, is still rehabbing his hand after having to undergo surgery after the Stanley Cup final. Depending on the severity and length of time needed to recover, Kessel is indeed in jeopardy of missing not only training camp, but the start of the 2016-2017 NHL hockey season.

At 6 feet tall and 203 pounds, he scored 26 goals in 82 appearances in his first year with the Pittsburgh Penguins and amassed 59 points. In his career, Kessel has 273 goals and 579 NHL points in 750 games played. These numbers are likely the reason the Penguins organization is not rushing his recovery as they would like one of the team's most popular skaters to be back in top form before seeing ice time again.

What could this mean for the team going forward into the season and a home opener against the rival Washington Capitals? The Penguins are lucky as they have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to bear some of the load and allow Kessel the recovery time he needs not to mention the plethora of young talent in wingers Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary, along with the dynamic Patric Hornqvist to balance the top six in goal scoring.

It will be interesting to see who the call up will be to fill the spot in the "bottom six" should Kessel need more time. Moving a winger up to the "HBK Line" leaves a slot in the bottom six for what should be the return of Daniel Sprong. However, Sprong is currently nursing his own injury and will not see action for a while due to that fact.

So who could be the next man up?

The Penguins have a few options, one of which being Josh Archibald. In the 2015-2016 regular season with the Wilkes-Barre Scanton Penguins, Archibald had 9 goals and 9 assists in 69 games. He also scored during the Baby Penguins chase for the Calder Cup Championship.

Another option, though unlikely, would be the spitfire Patrick McGrath. He was called up from the Wheeling Nailers and went right to work making a name for himself, not by goals scored, but by his flying fists of fury. His hot temper and lack of scoring makes him a long shot for a call up but the option is there if needed.

The Penguins do, thankfully, have more players available at their disposal thanks to off-season acquisitions that they could utilize once they have been given the once over at training camp.

At this point we can only speculate what could happen if it would need to happen at all. For now, we play the waiting game and wish a full (and somewhat speedy) recovery to the legendary Phil Kessel.

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