Phil Kessel

VANCOUVER -- Phil Kessel will not be eligible to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season after he and the Vancouver Canucks were unable to come to a contract agreement prior to the deadline on Friday.

The 36-year-old forward arrived in Vancouver on Feb. 12 and had been skating with the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate in nearby Abbotsford.

Kessel, who has been an unrestricted free agent since winning the Stanley Cup with the Vegas Golden Knights last season, can still sign an NHL contract and play this season but would be ineligible for the playoffs.

"Phil is a great person and well-respected player, what he has done in the League, a three-time Cup winner, [he] wanted to come back to play," Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday. "With roster complications and how we want to play, unfortunately at this point it wasn't a fit for us."

Kessel had 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 82 regular-season games with Vegas last season but after playing in their first four playoff games, he was a healthy scratch for the rest of the postseason, including the Cup Final. He also owns the NHL record for most consecutive games played, which is active at 1,064.

Selected by the Boston Bruins with the No. 5 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Kessel has 992 points (413 goals, 579 assists) in 1,286 games with the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes and Golden Knights. He has 83 points (34 goals, 49 assists) in 100 playoff games, winning the Stanley Cup three times, including back-to-back with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017 with Allvin, current Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and current Canucks coach Rick Tocchet.

Those relationships appeared to make the Canucks a good fit for Kessel's return, but as Allvin said Friday, Vancouver did not have enough NHL salary cap space to add a player without removing one from the roster.

"In order to facilitate a trade for us, we needed to move a player out to get a player in so obviously that's a tougher situation," Allvin said.

Vancouver did not make any trades after acquiring forward Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames on Jan. 31 for forward Andrei Kuzmenko, defenseman prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, a first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2024 draft.

The Canucks (42-17-7) lead the Pacific Division by 12 points over the Edmonton Oilers after not qualifying for the playoffs last season.