Philip Joseph Kessel, Jr.
Born October 2, 1987 (age 24) in Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Right winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs
This guy’s has been on fire as of late, and since the Leafs play the Bruins next, let’s see who Emma’s boys will face. Phil spent two years with the National Team Development Program, where he stood out so well that he was compared to Sidney Crosby! He would’ve been in the 2005 draft, but he was born a month too late for the cutoff of September, and he spent that year with the Golden Gophers at the University of Minnesota before being picked fifth overall in the 2006 draft by the Boston Bruins. He signed a three-year contract with them that August.
It would’ve been a great rookie year if something terrible had not happened – in December 2006, Phil was hospitalized with testicular cancer, but even after having surgery and being declared cancer-free, he played with the team on January 9, 2007. He went on to have a very good year, and Boston sports writers voted to nominate him for the Masterson Trophy. He went on to win the trophy for his comeback. By the end of the 2008-09 season, he’d not only racked up 36 goals in the regular season, but he scored a hat trick! But after the season was over, he had surgery on his shoulder and missed the beginning of the season that fall.
So then this trade happened that sent Phil to the Leafs and got the Bruins Toronto’s first and second round draft picks in 2010 and a first round pick in 2011. This is the reason that when Toronto plays in Boston, you’ll hear chants of “Thank you Kessel” – those draft picks ended up being Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton. When he played in Boston for the first time against his former team, he was soundly booed and had what can be described as one of his worst games after the Bruins beat the Leafs 7-2. But all was not lost, as he won silver in the 2010 Winter Olympics and was on Team Lidstrom for the 2011 All-Star Game. He already has 21 points so far this season, which puts him atop the league. It’s only November – who knows what’s in store for him and the Maple Leafs?