In their quest to get a Stanley Cup, the Edmonton Oilers continued to add roster pieces as the trade deadline approaches. The latest deal was Nick Bjustad with 50 percent retained salary for a 3rd round draft pick in 2023
. In addition, the teams swapped AHL defenceman with Michael Kesselring headed to the Tuscon Roadrunners while Cam Dineen came west to Bakersfield. The focus of this article is not the trade as a whole, but what the two teams exchanged in terms of AHL defenders and what the Oilers both gave up and received.
Kesselring is a 6’5″ 220 pound right-hand shot defenceman who was a sixth-round pick in 2018 under the Peter Chiarelli regime. After playing a season in the USHL and two seasons in the NCAA with Northeastern, Kesselring signed an ELC with the Edmonton Oilers in the 2021-22 season. Kesselring has played 125 games in Bakersfield amassing 16-22—38 over that time. Kesselring really broke out in this 2022-23 season when he became the number one offensive option for the Condors defence corp. He also began to assume more penalty kill and high-leverage 5v5 responsibilities due to injuries for Vincent Desharnais and Jason Demers. This became complete when Desharnais was called up by the Oilers and Kesselring became the 1RH for the Condors.
During this season, Kesselring has really started to create offence. He remains first in the AHL in shots on goal for defensemen and ranks 10th overall amongst all players. His total points rank him 44th amongst defenceman, but his goal total has him tied for third place. As I have noted previously, Kesselring’s underlying point totals are far more impressive. Kesselring did not assume any powerplay duties until very recently. If you removed every defenceman’s powerplay points, Kesselring would be tied for fifth in scoring for defenceman and he would be first in goals scored. Kesselring has been an even-strength monster this year. His signature goal has been his wrist shot from the point that is very accurate and is beating goalies clean.
Kesselring also has excellent offensive instincts and his puck skills are underrated.
Now Kesselring wasn’t a sixth-round pick because he was perfect. The first observation was Kesselring’s skating was an area that required improvement. This was both in terms of his straight-line speed and his lateral mobility. His straight-line speed was cleaned up very quickly in his pro career and his straight-line speed is NHL level.
His lateral mobility which did remain a work in progress last season has noticeably improved this year.
Other than his skating, the other major opportunity for improvement was his defensive play. Kesselring can get lost defending in zone and can be soft in coverage as well.
However, this year Kesselring really had improved his defending and even had some physicality to his repertoire.
Overall, Michael Kesselring was trending to get NHL games in the next year and his improvement each year certainly raised his ceiling from a surefire AHLer to a prospect with 5/6/7 potential. A very nice draft and development example for the Edmonton Oilers organization.
In exchange for Michael Kesselring, the Condors receive back an offensive defenceman by the name of Cam Dineen. Dineen was a 3rd round pick of the Coyotes in 2016. The 5’11” 190-lb. left-shot defender is 18 months older than Kesselring and consequently has a longer track record to review. He’s played 207 AHL games and accumulated 19-72—90. He also played a stint with the Coyotes in the 2021-22 season dressing for 34 games going 0-7—7.
Dineen is a very polished offensive defenceman. He runs the first powerplay for the Tuscon Roadrunners and is on the first pairing at even-strength. This year he has 4-21—35 in 50 games, which ranks him fifth in AHL defender scoring. Now the rub with Dineen is that he has scored a lot on the powerplay. While Kesselring has one point on the powerplay, Dineen has twenty. At evens, Kesselring has actually outscored Dinner 21 to 15. Nevertheless, Dineen is an excellent offensive defenceman with wonderful puck skills.
His skating is also NHL quality. Really it is his calling card at the AHL level.
The issue for Dineen is that he is not a great defender. His size is an issue for certain and he defends gets moved off the puck quite easily. In addition, he doesn’t always appear to play with enough edge around the net to prevent loose pucks from turning into chances for the other team.
He also gets puck-focused down low and can often leave the net front available to the opposition.
Overall, Cam Dineen reminds me of a better skating Yani Kaldis. An offence-first defender who has trouble in his own zone and struggles with the more physical elements of the game. Where it gets interesting is where does Dineen slot with the Oilers organization? He’s not really an NHL prospect given the depth chart with the Oilers and his years in the AHL already. In Bakersfield, he will have Niemelainen, Kaldis, Gildon and Peters on the left side. On the right side, there is Kemp and Demers. So it is possible that one of the left-shot defenders slides to the right side and Gildon sits out. I suspect that Dineen will get some opportunities on the Condors powerplay which has struggled most of the season. In the end, Dineen appears to be an AHL roster player and not one who has potential to fill out a NHL roster spot like Michael Kesselring.
As for Kesselring, smart commentators to me have pointed out that he would have trouble making his way to the Oilers roster. I think that is probably correct given that Broberg looks to be playing both sides and the team already has Ceci, Bouchard and Desharnais. However, that right side is not a very deep unit and it would be interesting what call-up would be made in the event the Oilers don’t add another right-shot defenceman before the trade deadline. In addition, Kesselring is a player who still is waiver exempt for another year. The one great thing about developing draft capital as the Oilers did here is that you can turn it into something that has the potential to the Oilers on their quest to have a parade down Jasper Avenue.