St. Louis Blues prospect, and former UMass star, Matt Kessel is looking to be one of the Blues’ standout prospects when training camp begins.
The 22-year-old defenseman finished his 3rd season of collegiate hockey in 2021-22 playing for the UMass Minuteman of Hockey East. Kessel won the national championship with UMass in 2020-21 with his team’s 5-0 victory over St. Cloud State before being drafted 150th overall by St. Louis in the 5th round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Kessel joined several other Blues draftees who’ve won championships before turning pro. Right now, he is with the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Springfield, where in 2021-22, the Thunderbirds were runner-up to the Calder Cup champion Chicago Wolves.
Kessel was born in Scottsdale, Arizona and grew up in Detroit. His last name has no relation to current NHL free agent right winger Phil Kessel. He has three brothers; Mitch, who played football at Cincinnati, Peter, who plays hockey for Holy Cross, and Will, who played hockey for, and captained the Western Michigan Broncos.
Kessel first signed with St. Louis back in late March. The Blues got him on a two entry-level contract set to begin this season.
The signing was especially notable for him as he did so a mere two days after his team was eliminated from the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Kessel’s first NHL contract is expected to be worth a little under $92,500 with an $883,750 cap hit set to kick in the in 2023-24 NHL season.
In his final season with the Minutemen, Kessel racked up 17 points, with 11 goals, plus 6 helpers and 22 minutes in a total of 37 games played for UMass. The Minutemen made it to the regional semifinals of this year’s NCAA tournament but lost to national semifinalist Minnesota. In the previous season, where he won the title with UMass, he logged 23 total points with 10 goals and 13 assists in 29 games and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team.
Prior to his collegiate career, Kessel spent two seasons in the USHL, including 2018-19 when he led the Sioux Falls Stampede to the Clark Cup championship.
Kessel knows what it takes to win, having done so in junior and college. It’s more a matter of when, not if he joins the Blues on the NHL side.