|Quebec Remparts' center Kelsey Tessier
has registered 20 points in his first 18 games this season in the QMJHL.
Kelsey Tessier believes in the adage that surrounding yourself with good people will help you succeed. For the 17-year-old Quebec Remparts center, that axiom is working especially well on the ice.
Tessier, a top-rated prospect for next June’s NHL Entry draft, skates on a line between another highly regarded prospect in Mikhail Stefanovich, and Angelo Esposito, a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins last June. Their team also boasts Maxime Sauve, another draft-eligible prospect, and Tessier likes the attention the group draws from NHL scouts.
“For all of us, it’s definitely our year and all that so we’re all excited and everything,” said Tessier, who has nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points in 18 games as a sophomore in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. “We’re not trying to focus on that at all. We’re just trying to focus on the Remparts and playing our game.”
Tessier also has a hockey legend that he can turn to for additional advice. Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy is the coach, general manager and a co-owner of the Remparts, and brings the same fiery disposition to the bench that he did to the ice as a player during his 19-year career. His will to win sets the tone for the entire team, and Tessier said the players feed off of that passion.
“All of our coaching staff, they all don’t like to lose,” said Tessier, who scored 23 goals and 50 points as a rookie with the Remparts last season. “It’s definitely a big advantage to us to give us the tools to win and we have no excuse not to. Every time we’re out there to play we have to give 100 percent. If not, we definitely get skated (in practice). It’s part of the deal.”
Tessier said Roy’s preparation for each game gives the Remparts an advantage, and it’s helped him learn how important attention to detail is in order to be successful.
“He gets every detail from the other team and he shows it to us and it just helps us to improve our game,” Tessier said. “Every time we are out on the ice we know what we are expecting from him. Those small things help us to win.”
Tessier wasn’t always sure that he was going to ply his trade in the QMJHL. He attended the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Minnesota at age 14.
He racked up impressive numbers in a season playing alongside another top prospect, David Toews, younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks standout rookie Jonathan Toews. The school boasts famous alumni like Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo. Esposito also attended the school before joining the Remparts.
Tessier said his time at Shattuck-St. Mary’s helped him realize that he could have an opportunity to play the game professionally.
“The hockey was great at Shattuck,” Tessier said. “That’s when I saw everything. I saw people getting drafted there and I played with good hockey players. I would see the older people on the prep team when I was on bantam and that’s how I wanted to be. So that’s where I pushed myself and that’s where I realized that’s where I wanted to be.”
Tessier played his midget year in Denver, Colo., before joining the Remparts as a QMJHL fourth-round draft pick in 2006.
“When I arrived here in Quebec, the organization was so well done with their players and everything they represent,” said Tessier, who attended the Remparts’ training camp three months after they won the Memorial Cup in Tessier’s hometown of Moncton, New Brunswick. “It was an unbelievable experience. I thought I would stay. I couldn’t miss this opportunity.”
The 5-foot-5, 164-pounder has outstanding offensive instincts and uses his vision and creativity to create offensive chances. But he also thrives on competing everywhere on the ice.
“I’m an overall player,” Tessier said. “I can put the puck in the net, I pay attention to the small details and I’m a two-way player that just likes to feed guys the puck. I like to slow down the play and try to make everything happen throughout my whole shift.”
Like most draft-eligible players, Tessier feels like he has a lot to work on to get his game ready for the NHL level. He already is quick, but wants to add even more speed to make his game that much more dangerous.
“I’m just trying to get the first three steps,” Tessier said. “I just want to make it better because I’m a smaller player than a lot of people so I want to make sure that my first three steps of speed can beat those 6-foot players when I go around them.”
Tessier compares his game to that of Daniel Briere. He loves the way that the Philadelphia Flyers’ center competes at both ends of the ice. The two share a common ability to create offensive chances on the ice and the willingness to compete hard for loose pucks.
“I like Daniel Briere because he’s kind of like my style player,” Tessier said. “I just like to always look at him and what he’s doing when he’s on the ice.”
Tessier admits that the pressure of being in his draft year can be intense, but he appreciates having other players around him that are going through the same thing, or have been through it before, like Esposito.
“I definitely have (the draft) in the back of my head,” Tessier said. “My first priority is the Quebec Remparts but it’s my draft year and you always have to keep that in mind. It’s a big event.”
He admits that he has set a personal goal of being drafted in the first round and is prepared to work as hard as he can to make that goal happen.
“Definitely the first round would be my number-one option; top 10 would be my goal,” Tessier said. “I just want to achieve it and work hard this year to make it happen.”