NHL Draft: Exciting time for North Hampton's Kesselring
By ROGER BROWN New Hampshire Union Leader
Mike Kesselring works the puck up ice during action last season for New Hampton School. (COURTESY)
Although he has a dog in the fight, New Hampton School hockey coach Casey Kesselring won’t be attending this year’s NHL Entry Draft, which begins tonight at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The NHL’s Central Scouting Service has Casey’s son, Michael Kesselring, ranked 75th among North American skaters who are draft eligible this year. Michael is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound defenseman who played for his father at New Hampton for each of the last four seasons.
“The draft is so unpredictable … that’s why we’re not going,” Casey said. “We’ve tried to downplay the draft a lot.
“Everyone I talk to says he’s going (to be selected). If I were putting my mortgage on it I think he’ll go in the fourth or fifth round.”
Some of you may remember Casey from his playing days at Merrimack College or his 10 seasons as the hockey coach at Pinkerton Academy. He guided the Astros to state titles in 2009 and 2012, and was hired as New Hampton’s head coach in 2013.
“I felt like I got more mature this year,” Michael said. “It can be hard to play for your dad.”
It looked like Michael was headed to Merrimack as well, but after committing to the Warriors he reopened the recruiting process when the school parted ways with head coach Mark Dennehy in March. He has reportedly been released from the National Letter of Intent he signed to attend Merrimack.
“In terms of my strengths, I move the puck and can get up into the play and create offense,” Michael said. “As far as things I still have to work on, I’m 6-4, so I still have to fill out my frame — stay in the gym. And as a bigger guy you always have to work on your skating.”
Michael was born in South Carolina, but spent most of his younger days in Manchester. He collected 34 points in 38 games with New Hampton last season, and then played 12 games for Des Moines in the USHL. Casey said he expects his son to play a full season with Des Moines next season and then it will be on to college hockey.
“He skates well for a big kid,” Casey said. “He’s good offensively — like (former Boston University defenseman) Tom Poti from my era. He’s not overly physical, but he’s smart and can get things going on the power play. “
Michael was one of 104 players invited to last month’s NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. He said the Islanders and Canadiens have shown the most interest, but the Bruins, Oilers, Rangers and Coyotes are among the other teams that interviewed him at the combine.
“It’s definitely really exciting,” Michael said. “The dream for me has always been to play in the National Hockey League.
“We’ll be watching the draft at my lake house with some friends. It should be fun.”
Other players with local ties who could be selected this weekend:
• Kimball Union Academy defenseman Jordan Harris, who has committed to Northeastern, is 44th among North American skaters on the Central Scouting Service’s final rankings. Harris, who lives in Haverhill, Mass., is one of three former KUA players who could be taken, joining defenseman Christian Felton (No. 138) and left wing Logan Cash (NR). Felton is from Medina, Ohio, and Cash, who has committed to play at the University of Vermont, hails from Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia.
• Bedford resident Alexander Steeves came in at No. 86 among North American skaters on the CSS’s final rankings. Steeves, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound center, spent last season with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints and has committed to play at the University of Notre Dame. His brother, Matt, is a forward at Notre Dame and will be a sophomore in the fall.
• Salem resident Cam Boudreau, an undersized center (5-foot-11, 161 pounds), is No. 189 on the CSS rankings. He skated for the Junior Bruins (NCDC) last season and has committed to Quinnipiac. He played high school hockey for Central Catholic in Lawrence, Mass., and prep school hockey for Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass.
• Two incoming UNH recruits, center Angus Crookshank (No. 135) and goaltender Ty Taylor (No. 25 among North American goalies), could also hear their names called this weekend. Both spent last season in the BCHL, Crookshank with the Langley Rivermen and Taylor with the Vernon Vipers. Each player is scheduled to join UNH next season.
• Although he’s not ranked by Central Scouting, defenseman Wil MacKinnon, another 2018 UNH recruit, is also draft eligible. MacKinnon was the alternate captain for the Des Moines Buccaneers last season and ranked ninth among USHL players in penalty minutes. He originally committed to Denver, but reopened the recruiting process when Jim Montgomery left Denver to become the Dallas Stars head coach.
• Connor Sweeney, a left-shot forward from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., is a 2020 UNH recruit and is also unranked by the CSS, but is draft eligible this year. Bob Sweeney, Connor’s father, spent 10 season in the NHL, including six with the Boston Bruins.