Does anyone know how he became an UFA? Theoretically the Isles would own his rights for another year.
Here is what BSH said about it:
He opted to leave college after his junior year. If he stayed all four years at UNH, he would have been property of the Islanders until August 15 of next summer. But since he left early, that all changes. College players that fail to finish all four years of school become unrestricted free agents on June 1 of the fourth year following their draft year. If you've been following along, that means that Kessel used a loophole in the CBA, left college early, and became a free agent on June 1, 2011. Bye bye, Islanders.
You said that his being a converted defenseman from a forward tells a lot. It really doesn't. There are misses all over the place in talent evaluations. From 1st round picks on down. A players style of play can change. So your point that he's converted to a D man, really doesn't tell you anything. Why would the Flyers give a "meh" player the last contract spot they have currently? Obviously there's something there they like in his potential.
You still haven't given anything concrete to point out how he's a "meh" player.
Bartulis converted from a forward to a Dman when he was older too, IIRC.
You're right, of course. Maybe Holmgren didn't see him in person, so what? The Flyers' scouts who were giving very heavy scrutiny to JVR at UNH will have seen him and kept a book on him.
And they liked what they saw at Rookie Orientation in July, or they would not have signed him.
We'll see if he can develop into an NHL player over the next couple years.
Do you have the particulars as to why he didn't sign with the Islanders?
If I had to take a guess from Kessel's POV. The Islanders have De Haan, Donovan and Ness all signed to play their first season in Bridgeport this year. Add to that Wishart is sort of the first callup/7th defenseman and Mark Katic(who recently got injured) are sort of higher on the depth chart Kessel saw the writing on the wall and used a loophole to get himself in a better position.
As an Islanders fan I would much rather of signed Kessel then Ness(who is way to small and doesn't put up enough points despite being an "offensive" defenseman) but I can't blame him for doing what he did. He probably will get more attention in Philly. The Islanders lost another mid tier prospect(Jason Gregoire) to Winnipeg this summer under similar circumstances. I think it's just a case of having an abundance of picks in a short amount of time, that some players will slip through the cracks.
From an Islanders POV, I think they have so many rookies coming to Bridgeport this year they wanted to keep Kessel in college one more year so they can sort out who fits where. I am guessing if the Islanders really didn't have much prospect depth at defense they would have made a hard play to sign him sooner.
Blake Kessel made a nice little semi-debut tonight, a day after getting a contract from the team. He scored a goal, and you can tell he likes jumping up into the play offensively. We cited Hockey's Future in our story yesterday, saying that he switched from forward to defense with Waterloo in his USHL days, but he told me after the game that he switched to defense in his pee wee days. So there's that.
Kessel likes to join the offensive rush with his speed and skill and can act as a fourth forward on the ice. He was converted to defense by Waterloo coach Bob Suter.
With the inclusion of the name of the head coach, I'm fairly skeptical of it being a lie.
I'm sure there's just a misunderstanding somewhere because people don't use facts like that when they're making something up. Also, there's no real motive or reason to lie. Why just make up the idea that he was a converted forward? People are that creative now?