Competing in his first Olympic games, Kessel will be playing under head coach Ron Wilson and GM Brian Burke - his management staff with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He was a member of three consecutive World Championship teams (2006, 2007 and 2008), leading the team in scoring with six goals in 2008. His line, with Zach Parise and Patrick Kane, combined for 28 points (14-14-28) and 44% of the team’s total scoring in seven games.
Kessel led the tournament with 10 assists (1-10-11) in seven games at the 2006 World Junior Championships held in Vancouver. The U.S. team, which also featured 2010 Olympians Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson and Bobby Ryan, finished fourth after a bronze medal loss to Finland.
He was honored with the Bob Johnson Award at the 2005 USA Hockey Annual Congress for excellence in international hockey during a specific season of play.
His sister, Amanda, was a member of the 2008 team that captured the United States’ first-ever Women’s World Under-18 Championship gold medal.
Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.
— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals