kessy by ferguson

This is Kale Kessy. I believe he is the final transaction in the career of Steve Tambellini as Oilers GM—Tobias Rieder to Phoenix for Kessy—and it had that look of a terrible deal, one of those skill-for-nothing trades. Rieder looks like a million bucks, and Kessy—before training camp—looked exactly like a Coke Machine.

And then came fall 2014.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


If I made a list of Coke Machine selections since 2000 made by Edmonton, it would run from sea to shining sea. High picks, low picks, middle picks. Edmonton drafted Brad Winchester, Eddie Caron, Dan Baum, J-F Dufort, J-F Jacques, Zack Stortini, Colin McDonald, Geoff Paukovich, all taken 2000-2004 in search of a big man with speed and intimidation.

My definition of a Coke Machine is a big, strong forward who can fight and intimidate, maybe even skate like the wind, but can not play hockey in the traditional sense. You know, take and make a pass, that kind of thing.

The Stu MacGregor era has been less enamored of size with little regard for skill (Cameron Abney) but the Kessy deal added a big, tough Coke Machine. Could he take and make a pass? It didn’t look good. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Vancouver Giants GM Giants Scott Bonner said “Kessy is a big, strong guy
who goes to the net and takes the body but does it clean.  I’m assuming
he’s going to bring some courage to our guys and allow them to play the
way we need to have some success. We have a younger group and, at times,
a timid group and I think people like Kessy make those types of players
feel comfortable.”

edmonton common1

Tobias Rieder? Red Line Report:Undersized, but exceptionally smart playmaking
winger with excellent offensive instincts and creativity. Has decent
speed, but lacks the explosive first step burst and acceleration you’d
like to see in a player his size. Super soft hands and slick with the
puck in tight; can create separation with sharp cuts/turns. Sees the ice
very well and can saucer touch passes through traffic off either side
of the blade. Makes imaginative set-ups, often surpassing his mates with
unexpected plays. Average shot, but has good finishing ability from the
circles in with a quick release he hides well. Anticipates developing
plays, stepping in to intercept passes and start quick counterattacks in
transition. Desperately needs to pack on muscle – lost weight during
the season and was out of gas from January on. Not afraid to go into the
corners and will take hits, but can’t battle effectively.

Why would Edmonton deal Rieder for Kessy? A couple of reasons. No one says it out loud, but it sounds like Rieder didn’t want to sign in Edmonton. He’s a smaller player, and the Oilers have a lot of that player type, but who knows why he wouldn’t sign (or if that’s just a reason floated for a very uneven deal).

kessy by ferguson 1

The second item is Kessy himself. If a scout saw him good (6.03, 212) then maybe the organization felt like it was worth one more roll of the dice on a Coke Machine.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

(Kessy photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

Kessy arrived at this year’s training camp in terrific shape. He’s skating much better and having a greater impact on these preseason games. In the Winnipeg game, Kessy’s line (with Ewanyk and Pitlick) was credited with turning the game around.


I’ve been watching Oilers hockey since 1972, and the number of big forwards who have auditioned for NHL time numbers in the dozens. Will Kale Kessy amount to much? At the Young Stars tournament, Kessy got noticed with solid play:

  • Craig MacTavish: “Kessy definitely played well, did what he needed to do and showed a
    willingness to be a physical factor. He made a lot
    more plays than he did last year, which he needed to do. He’s really
    come a long ways in a year.”


For his part, Kessy appears to be more determined than ever to make a difference, to impact the game and further his career.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Kessy: “I just tried to work hard in the summer. I was up here in the summer
    working on my skating, my fitness and stuff like that. I’ve just got to
    play hard, get pucks in, get pucks out and finish my checks. I’ve just
    got to continue to improve my quickness and my skating always. That can
    always improve but I think I’ve gotten a little bit better”




I have no idea where Kale Kessy fits, only that he has the attention of the Oilers organization and appears to fill a need. Will he make an NHL appearance this season, and run over an opponent while also displaying enough skill to keep up with the skill players?

Look, this is a long shot’s dark horse, one in a million shot. He scored TWO goals as an AHL rookie. J-F Jacques scored 24 in his minor league rookie season. All we really know is Kale Kessy has taken a giant leap forward.

We wait.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ^it would be nice if we could actually get some kind of good NHL play out of this guy considering this Rieder for Kessy trade has been one of the least popular ones in the last several years.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ^i think Oiler fans are sometimes Jekyll and Hyde about trading prospects….we seem to have become almost paranoid about trading one of the developmental kids because we are worried we might be trading the next star player away. yet some say trade more of the prospect players for help now. this one really wasn’t worth worrying about as much as some have because Rieder was likely never going to play here or on the top 2 lines and appears to not skate well enough or play good enough defensively to be any kind of checker.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Kale Kessey sucks. Watched him live a couple times. This guy should be playing for Bakersfield Condors in the ECHL and still battling for 4th line minutes. What a waste of a Oilers Nation article. Just painted my bedroom wall. I’m gonna go watch the paint dry.

  • "Frank the dog"

    One more thing: What player in his right mind wants to come to, or stay with, a team in the middle of the frozen prairies that has one of the worst track records in the league and has inept political appointees controlling the mid-tier coaching between the HC and the players?

    I don’t think any of us have any idea how many people have left the team or avoided the team due to this factor.

    I’m saying that because the fault in management goes beyond inept trades by an inept GM. Tambo lacked the political clout of the Assistant Coaches. Not that I think he was suited for the role neither did he have the clout that MacT did to mover the two of them into different roles.

    We are finally looking at a rejuvenated organization, starting this year. It was started by Katz bringing his deep pockets and ruthless Arena organization to the Oilers, and is culminating in a competent, politically connected GM cleaning house.

    Few of us are here because of the weather or the scenery, though it’s somewhat beautiful on those clear, crisp days when the sky is powder blue, and the trees are covered in jack frost.

    We come and stay for work, family, lifelong friends, and to some degree, hockey.

    Likewise as this team returns to common sense, NHL calibre coaching, and drafting players that can take a pass and make a pass, the weather and lack of scenery will be replaced with a desire to play on a hockey team that finally has a future – and increasingly, a present.

  • One preseason game does not an NHL player make.

    We all dismissed this guy last year, so why is it any different this year?

    He’s a big guy who can hit and just now has shown he can skate fairly well, and brings few other actual hockey skills to the table.

    And yes, you can point at WHL numbers all you want but there are tons of coke machines who did that and couldn’t put up points at the next level.

    I know we all want to see the next Pisani or Brodziak but it’s really wishful thinking that somehow Kessy can turn into that.

  • "Frank the dog"

    I will continue to say this. Kessy is from the Rocky Balboa line!

    Not as a boxer but as a guy who never gives up. (Eye of the Tiger)
    Never drafted in junior and sent home early from his first camp.
    He is the guy that should have been happy with just playing WHL minutes.

    First time I watched him play live I laughed out loud. Literally.

    He looked like a guy who had went through a crazy growth spurt and had no idea on how to use his new body to move fluently. But as that game wore on he left me with the impression that he is a warrior. He never gave up on a play, never stopped trying, never stopped hitting, was the first guy to protect his teammates, etc, etc.

    I have probably seen Kessy play at least 70 times in person.
    I still am not sure he is a real NHL player but he is acting like playing hockey is his passion and he is gonna damn well be good at it. To see how far he has come from that first game is amazing.

    Lots of times I don’t like to meet sports players because you get an ideal in your head of the type of person that they are, upon meeting them they aren’t who you envisioned. Some are better many are worse.

    To me he is

    Kale ‘Rocky Balboa’ Kessy

    And it’s not for his boxing skills.

  • 916oiler

    Uhhhh nothing else to write about?

    Kessy is not an NHL player, not close.

    I’m sure he’s a nice guy, hard worker, etc., but in relevant discussions regarding employment by the Oilers, Kessy is not a name that needs to be brought up.