We still don’t know if Phil Kessel will be among the best players the Boston Bruins have to offer when the 2009-10 season opens. The restricted free agent has yet to put his name on a contract extension and recent media reports quoted his agent as saying the team and the player’s camp are far apart.
So while August creeps along toward September and the start of camp, all we can say with certainty is that Kessel is one of the 10 best U.S.-born players in the NHL. Yesterday, Mike Morreale of NHL.com ranked the top 10 best players born on American soil, and Kessel ranked eighth while teammate Tim Thomas ranked No. 2.
About Thomas, Morreale wrote:
“The native of Flint, Mich., took the long path to stardom, spending years in Europe and the minors before finally making it big with the Bruins. In 2008-09, he became only the second Boston goalie in more than 65 years to win the Vezina Trophy while setting high with 36 wins. He finished the regular season as the NHL leader in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933), and had a 1.85 GAA and .935 save percentage in 11 playoff games.”
And on Kessel, Morreale wrote:
“In his third NHL season, Kessel established career highs in goals (36), assists (24) and points (60) in 70 games — becoming the Bruins’ first 30-goal scorer since 2005-06. He also had the longest point-scoring streak in the NHL last season, at 18 consecutive games, from Nov. 13 through Dec. 21 (14 goals, 28 points). Kessel also had 6 goals and 11 points in 11 playoff games.”
New Jersey winger Zach Parise was picked as the No. 1 U.S.-born player and I cannot argue with that.