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Vegas Golden Knights add veteran presence up front, sign right winger Phil Kessel, 34, to one-year deal

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Phil Kessel's best goals from 2021-22 season (1:26)

Take a look back at Phil Kessel's most impressive moments from last season as he looks to join the Golden Knights. (1:26)

The Vegas Golden Knights scooped up one of the last remaining notable free agents Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year deal with American forward Phil Kessel.

The deal carries a price tag of $1.5 million and ensures another veteran presence on a team looking to return to the playoffs after missing out last season.

Kessel, 34, who has 956 career points, is the leading active NHL Iron Man, having played in 982 consecutive contests. And his first goal with Vegas next season will be the 400th of his career.

"Phil's an established NHL veteran who has enjoyed great success,'' Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said Thursday. "He's been consistently productive over his entire career. He's been a Stanley Cup champion on two occasions, he has a high-end skill set, probably unique in some respects to the rest of our forwards, which is a little bit of where the appeal was for us.''

Indeed, in a league full of uncertainty -- especially the past few seasons with coronavirus-related concerns and postponements abound -- one of the few constants, night after night, has been the consistent effort of Kessel, who began his active games streak on Nov. 3, 2009.

While his production has tailed off through the years, the veteran right winger managed to author eight goals and 52 points last season for the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes, who had to take on large, expiring contracts just to get to the salary-cap floor.

"When you get a chance to play on a good team that wants to win, you're always looking forward to it,'' Kessel said. "Over the last couple years you get lost here and people don't view you anymore like you used to be viewed, and I don't think that's the case. I'm very motivated to come in here and help this team and try to contend. I'm very motivated and I think I'm going to have a great year.

"When you want to win and everyone on the team wants to win, it's a different feeling, a different vibe. Arizona, they had great guys, all the players, they're great kids and a lot of good people there. But when you don't want to necessarily win and contend, it becomes difficult as a player, especially when you came from Pittsburgh and I wanted to win.''

A 2006 first-round pick of the Boston Bruins, who took him No. 5 overall, Kessel has scored at least 20 goals in 12 of his last 14 seasons. His average time on ice dipped last season to 16:40 as the Coyotes continued to promote prospects from their AHL affiliate, but Kessel can still score, can still get into the tough corners to battle for loose pucks, and, as one of the more animated players in the game, usually does all this with a smile on his face.

The Golden Knights, now coached by Bruce Cassidy after he was fired by the Bruins in the offseason, have acquired a right-handed shot in Kessel who could garner minutes on one of their top two lines and potentially be a key cog in front of the net on the power play.

A Wisconsin native, Kessel played for Team USA in two Olympic Games and three world championships. In addition to the Coyotes and Bruins, he has also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.