Former UNH defenseman Blake Kessel, younger brother of Toronto’s Phil Kessel, signed a 2-year entry level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
Kessel, who left the University of New Hampshire after his junior season with the Wildcats, was also a New York Islanders sixth round draft pick back in 2007. After UNH was ousted from the NCAA Regional in March, the 6’2, 210-lb defenseman was scheduled to return for his senior year. However, the announcement was made at the end of May that he was going to forego his final year to play professionally.
Up until this point, there had been no word or updates of any contracts with any team.
Kessel will hope to join former UNH teammate and current Flyer-standout James van Riemsdyk on the ice this season, after JVR signed a 6-year contract extension with Philadelphia. They played one year together at UNH before van Riemsdyk left after his sophomore year. With Kessel’s participation in Flyers rookie camp, van Riesmdyk was excited to hear the news Kessel’s signing.
“It’s going to be cool,” van Riemsdyk said. “He brings a lot to the table and I’m really happy for him.”
When asked what he thinks caught Philadelphia’s eye, JVR mentioned his hockey sense on the ice and his stick skills on defense.
Kessel ended his career at UNH with 78 points on 21 goals and 57 assists in 114 games played. He also ranked 18th in the nation for defensemen scoring with 0.69 points per game and was named a 2011 Walter Brown Award semifinalist.