Matthew Kessel signed a two-year contract with St. Louis Blues back in March of this year. After that though, he went to Springfield of the American Hockey League. He is happy about everything that happened. "Yes, definitely a special [season]," Kessel said for NHL.com "Got some good experience, and it was good to finish with Springfield there.
"I kind of had an idea. It was definitely my goal to sign with St. Louis and leave after my junior season at UMass. To be able to jump onto a good team like that and be able to get that experience is great."
He showed his talent in Springfield.
"It was definitely a great opportunity," Kessel said. "A lot of great guys there with good character helped me get acclimated there, get fit in, and being able to obviously jump on a good team like that and start playing right away was just a great experience that I can take into next year.
"I think guys are a little faster and better with their decisions, so they're a little smarter. I think that was the biggest thing, and the biggest thing for me was just continuing to stay confident, trust my skating ability with my size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), and just realize I have more time than I think and just make smart plays."
Blues director of player personnel Tim Taylor compared Kessel to one of his former players: Colton Parayko. "[Kessel] took huge strides, and I go back to Parayko. He was one of the last guys that did that," Taylor said.
"He almost played more games in the pro level than in college, so it was a great stepping-stone for him. Get that experience from not only just the AHL, but AHL playoffs was ramped up even more, so he's got a real good taste of what to expect to train and get ready for next year.
… We thought highly of him, but now watching his feet play and his puck positioning and his heads-up and little internal plays that he makes to open up guys at the pro level, it gives us a real sense of gratitude knowing that it was a great experience for him, and this guy now is going to know what it's going to be all about at training camp."