The Next Defenceman in the Pipeline
2 months ago
In recent years, the Edmonton Oilers have done an excellent job of developing defencemen and getting them to the NHL. We have all seen the success of Evan Bouchard and Markus Neimalinen, who are graduates of the Bakersfield Condors development. There have also been players that have left the organization, like Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones.
Down in Bakersfield, the Oilers have accumulated the next generation of talent on the blue line. Philip Broberg, their first-round pick from 2020, is leading the pack and is quickly followed by Vincent Desharnais, a former seventh-round pick out of Providence College. Ken Holland moved on Dmitri Samourkov this summer after he failed to crack the NHL rosters again. While the trade did not involve a defenceman coming back, acquiring forward Klim Kostin instead, it did open the door for other prospects already in the system.
Please step for Michael Kesselring.
Kesselring is a 22-year-old defenceman drafted in the 2018 draft with the 164th overall pick, the same year they took Bouchard 10th overall. The young defenceman spent two years in the United States Hockey League, USHL, with the Des Moines Buccaneers and Fargo Force before signing in the NCAA with Northeastern University. During his team with Northeastern, Kesselring scored 13 points (7 goals, six assists) in 54 games before turning pro. He is now in his third season in Bakersfield and is thriving in his advanced role.
After scoring three goals and 16 points in 76 games for the Condors, he is on track to smash his previous totals out of the park. In nine games, Kesselring leads the AHL in points by a defenceman with six, including five goals. Right now, he is on pace for 48 points this season, which would make him the highest-scoring Condors defenceman in a season during their time in the AHL. Is that likely? Possibly but his assist totals will have to rise for him to achieve it.
Ryan Holt, the play-by-play voice of the Bakersfield Condors, joined Tyler Yaremchuk on Oilersnation Everyday earlier this week. He mentioned that Keith Gretzky, the Condors General Manager, said that Kesselring had impressed him the most at rookie camp and would be a player lookout for this season.
He is also more than just an offensive point-producing defenceman. The 2023 season has been his first time producing offensively since his last year in the USHL, and that’s a huge positive for the depth chart.
“He is long, rangy, and has that physicality and mean streak to him,” said Holt on Kesselring. “Defensively is where you see the maturation of Michael Kesselring.
Of course, it is still early days in Bakersfield season; however, the strides Kesselring has taken already can only help his development down the road. He still has plenty of time to develop, too, with the organization expecting more from players like Broberg and Desharnais. Kesselring could be the next diamond in the rough the Oilers were able to discover.
KESSELRING’S PRO CAREER SO FAR
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