The Oilers returned to the draft board for the sixth round in Dallas. Selecting 164th, the Oilers decided to go with an unknown defenseman most recently out of the USHL: Michael Kesselring. A large, right shooting defenseman who played for the Des Moines Buccaneers and has committed to Merrimack College in the NCAA, who recently released him from his Letter of Intent. A change in coaching means Kesselring will not play in the NCAA next season but the USHL instead.
So, if you’re sitting and thinking “who the hell did the Oilers pick?” you’re not alone. Kesselring is a player who was projected to be selected in the sixth or seventh rounds, if he was selected. Kesselring didn’t make the draft board in several mock drafts. So, why did the Oilers take a chance and pick him?
Honestly, I have no clue what distinguishes Kesselring from the other prospects on the board at this point in the draft. Kesselring was fairly successful in playing for New Hampton School – high school hockey in New Hampshire. He tallied 11 goals and 23 assists in 38 games played. His transition to the USHL was a little bit rockier with only 2 assists in 12 games.
But Kesselring is big. Already 6’4” and only 18, he certainly could be an imposing presence on a blue line some day. For the next several years, he is committed to play in the USHL again next season. The Oilers will have time to assess and see if he has qualities they want to add to their defensive prospects pool.
Onee of the limited scouting reports on Kesselring listed good mobility for his size. Caveats like that don’t inspire confidence. Instead they bring to mind, large and lumbering defensemen too slow to disrupt a play or land a hit against the agile NHL forwards. The Oilers will be hoping that is not the case with Kesselring.
Picking in the later rounds of the draft is always a bit of a guessing game. The majority of the players won’t even make it the AHL, let alone the NHL. Most players don’t end up with Jaimie Benn’s career. So, it’s not like the Oilers have risked a lot in selecting Kesselring, and it soothes fans as picking a right-handed defenseman seems to fulfill an organizational need. It is difficult to say if picking Kesselring will add any value to the Oilers organization, but it probably won’t hurt at this point.
The warning there is, of course, the need for balance as in five years the Oilers could be in the exact opposite situation. Too many right defensemen.