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Philip Joseph Kessel, Jr. (born October 2, 1987) is an American professional ice hockey forward currently playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL). Kessel is a product of USA Hockey's National Development Team and became that program's all-time leader for goals and points in his final 2004–05 year. Kessel finished his amateur career by playing collegiate hockey for the University of Minnesota in the WCHA. He was the fifth-overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, taken by the Boston Bruins. In his rookie season, he was awarded the prestigious Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Kessel had an outstanding 2004–05 junior season, one in which many NHL scouts ranked him as a prospect comparable to Sidney Crosby (and one of The Next Ones). Born in October, Kessel missed the 2005 NHL Entry Draft cutoff by only one month. However, in 2005–06, Kessel experienced several setbacks that hurt his ranking as a prospect. Considered the most talented player on the favored United States team in the 2006 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, he scored only one goal and the team finished in fourth. His college performance was less spectacular than expected; by season's end he was playing third-line minutes for a loaded Minnesota Golden Gophers squad, though he did score 18 goals and finish with 51 total points, a solid season for a freshman forward.

Kessel was still viewed highly enough that he was drafted fifth overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. Prior to the draft he dropped in ranking from first to second place among the North American skaters and in the final ranking he was ranked fourth among the North American skaters. At one point during his draft year he was projected to be the number 1 overall pick but was ultimately surpassed by Erik Johnson and then continued to drop.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Phil Kessel."
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