The big thing about Kale Kessy you should know (that has changed from a year ago) is the added speed from the big man. Kessy arrived in training camp last year with an extra gear and it made a significant difference.
- Dallas Eakins, September 2014: “Kale has had a good training camp. He is a kid that worked extremely hard this summer on his strength, his conditioning, his speed…He has worked a ton on his skating, and he has come a long, long way, and he has moved himself up the depth chart. We like the way he fights for every shift, and he is just trying to stay another day right now.” Source
Kessy was sent down early but clearly made an impression. His AHL season was going very well (17GP, 3-3-6) before he suffered a knee injury the derailed 2015-16 completely. Neal Livingston reported on it, and offered an insightful update on the young man’s new approach:
- Neal Livingston: “Kessy, having a decent season, has recently changed the way he plays the game of hockey. Less nasty and more instigator, Kale has hammered out he rough edges enough to make him a pretty pesky deep forward. One that the Oilers liked in camp, preseason, and still tend to keep an eye on while in the minors.” Source
Kessy is worth talking about because there’s a job on the roster he can fill, with few other candidates available to fill it. In the ‘enforcer’ category for Edmonton, we have three contenders. Since they all played in the CHL, it’s insightful to look at their NHLE’s at the same age:
- Age 17: Kessy (9 points); Gazdic (6 points); Moroz (9 points)
- Age 18: Kessy (8 points); Gazdic (11 points); Moroz (12 points)
- Age 19: Kessy (18 points); Gazdic (12 points); Moroz (22 points)
- Age 20: Kessy (5 points-AHL); Gazdic (4 points-AHL); Moroz (6 points)
- Age 21: Kessy (15 points-AHL); Gazdic (10 points-AHL); Moroz (still to come)
- Age 22: Kessy (to come); Gazdic (13 points-AHL)
I’m not sure much can be gleaned by these numbers, I’ve always thought health was the biggest factor in these jobs. Gazdic has the NHL slot currently, suspect he owns it until:
- He gets hurt
- One of the other players clearly establishes a track record of being more skilled.
Is that Kessy? The increased speed and attention to actual hockey may signal a brand new day. You never know.