Junior and early career
Kessel played hockey in his hometown junior team AAA Madison Capitols. For 2003-04 season, Kessel entered the US National Team Development Program, where his great performances raised high expectations for future career. Kessel graduated from high school 2005, after which he played in the University of Minnesota hockey team. In 2006, he was drafted by Boston Bruins, being the fifth overall draft.
Kessel made an entry-level contract with the Bruins and made it to the first team. Shockingly, during his debut season, he was diagnosed with a testicular cancer. However, he played a total of 70 regular season games despite getting the treatment for his disease. Kessel scored 29 regular season points in his debut NHL season.
Next season 2007-08, Kessel played full 82 regular season games. He scored 37 points and got his first play-off games. However, season 2008-09 was the one, when he got rid of the health issues and could perform on the expected level. After 60-point regular season and 11 points in play-offs, Kessel was traded to Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kessel played six years in Toronto. Maple Leafs did not have great success during this time: they made it only once to the play-offs. Kessel proved his worth in NHL, but after especially lame 2014-15 season for Maple Leafs, it was time to a new trade – this time, to Pittsburgh Penguins.
In Penguins, Kessel was popular with the fans and his performances were very solid – and most importantly, Penguins won two consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. With the Penguins, Kessel scored his career-high 92 regular season points in season 2017-18. Despite his great success with the team, Kessel spent only four seasons in Pittsburgh: after season 2018-19 he was traded to Arizona Coyotes.
With the Coyotes, Kessel’s 2019-20 season consisted of 70 games and 38 regular season points. For time being, Coyotes is getting ready for the qualifying round of Stanley Cup playoffs of 2020.
Phil Kessel has represented USA national team in several junior and senior tournaments. He was in the U18 teams that won silver in 2004 games and gold in 2005 tournament. Kessel has played also in three senior World Championship tournaments. Moreover, he played in 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games. In 2010 Olympic Games, US team finished second and won silver medals.
Other interesting stuff
Kessel’s family has also some other athletes: his father was a quarterback in college football team and got drafted to NFL. His brother Blake has played several seasons of minor league hockey and spent two years playing in Germany and Finland. Moreover, his sister Amanda plays in National Women’s Hockey League and she played in the USA national team that won gold in 2018 Winter Olympics.
Kessel is also an eager poker player and he has played in several high stakes poker tournaments.