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Speedy Kessel ready for draft

by Jeremy Lemoine / Boston Bruins

BOSTON – Phil Kessel enters this summer’s NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver ranked fifth on the Central Scouting Report. Kessel began the season ranked No. 1, but has since slid and finds himself down four spots on the CSS heading into the June 24 draft.

“It doesn’t matter,” Kessel told the Hockey News. “There are a lot of great players and I could be drafted anywhere. Wherever I end up, I’ll be happy.”

Even though Kessel has fallen from the top spot, he still possesses undeniable speed and could be the most dynamic scorer in the draft. Kessel has been touted as a potential 50-goal scorer by many scouts around the league.

“Kessel is probably the most dynamic player in the draft,” according to Scott Bradley, Bruins Director of Amateur Scouting. “His skating is rated at probably a nine or ten out of ten. He has unlimited speed too.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound University of Minnesota attendee was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s rookie of the year. The freshman center tallied 18 goals and 33 assists for 51 points in just 39 games – good for second on the team in scoring. Kessel finished first on the team in the plus/minus department with a plus-22 rating.

The 18-year old also had the opportunity to represent the USA twice in 2006. In January, Kessel played in the World Junior Championships in Vancouver, and scored one goal and had 10 assists for 11 points. Then, in April, he competed for USA’s World Championship team in Latvia and recorded 1-1=2 totals in seven games.

As for Kessel going directly to the NHL after the draft, anything is possible. The Golden Gophers already lost two top players to the NHL right after their season. Kessel could certainly make it No. 3.

Central Scouting Report:

Is a very fast and quick skater who often surprises opponents with an extra gear … with outstanding breakaway speed, he can carry the puck and separate himself from pursuers in an instant and can turn an opponent inside out one-on-one … has a heavy and accurate shot and very quick hands when releasing his wrist shot at top speed … can beat a goaltender many ways and is an excellent passer and play-maker who can find his man in traffic or open ice with ease … has the ability to go end-to-end and bring the fans to the edge of their seats … is excellent on the power play and a threat to score when killing penalties … is good on face-offs and capable of using his offensive instincts to determine the outcome of a game … he wants the puck when the game is on the line and while not overly physical he does not shy away from the corners and along the boards … protects the puck well with his body and has strong pursuit of the puck … has become more reliable in his defensive play this season … became USA Hockey’s National Team development program all-time leader in career goals with 104 and points with 180 in 2004-05 season … has played on two U.S. World Junior Teams and in 2005-06 was selected the rookie of the year in the WCHA and was selected to the all-rookie team while playing for the U. of Minnesota.

Personal Profile:

Nickname is Thrill … favorite NHL player is Colorado’s Joe Sakic … wears #26 because #8 is retired … says that his parents have had the greatest influence on his career because “they have taken me to all of my hockey events when I was younger” … most memorable hockey game played was the U-18 game vs. Czech Republic … favorite TV show is Friends … favorite movies are Rounders and Boondock Saints … favorite musician is Tim McGraw.
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