According to a league source, University of Minnesota forward Phil Kessel has decided to forego the final three years of his college eligibility and sign a three-year contract with the
Boston Bruins. The club likely will make the formal announcement on Thursday.
Kessel will earn the entry-level max $850,000 in annual salary for the duration of the contract. He'll also be eligible for significant performance-based bonuses. For example, rookie stars
Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby earned approximately $3 million in bonuses during the 2005-06 season.
The Bruins figure Kessel will fit in nicely on the team's top two lines. In one scenario, Kessel could play left wing on a line with newly-acquired free agent center Marc Savard and veteran right wing Glen Murray.
Last season, in 39 games as a freshman at Minnesota, Kessel scored 18 goals and dished out 33 assists for 51 points. Kessel got a chance to play against the big boys as a member of Team USA's World Championship team last spring. In seven games, he had a goal and an assist for two points.
Kessel wowed scouts with his performance for Team USA's Under-20 team during the past two winters. In 14 career Under-20 tournament games, Kessel scored five goals and recorded 12 assists for 17 points.
The 6-0, 190-pound Madison, WI native will turn 19 on Oct. 2.
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine.