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VIP Insider Post #111: Analysis of Recent News Stories

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Exclusively for our VIP supporters, TMR editor Mike McMahon brings you these “insider” posts, where he’ll discuss the news and give some insight and perspective on the stories we’re covering here at The Mack Report as well other insider info from stories around the country …

— Interesting news last night that former Merrimack commit Michael Kesselring had committed to Northeastern. Kesselring had asked out of his NLI not long after the coaching change, but it took some time to execute and it had appeared, at least from Merrimack’s perspective, that there might have been a change of heart. Back before the NHL Draft, Kesselring met on campus with Merrimack coaches and seemed to be excited about joining the program. Merrimack offered him the chance to come to campus this upcoming season. But, not long after that, they received a call that he no longer wanted to be a part of the program and Merrimack released him from the NLI.

It’s a weird situation to be in, from Merrimack’s perspective. Technically, they didn’t have to release Kesselring. They could have forced him to sit a year as a transfer player, and by breaking an NLI, he also would have lost a year of competition (only eligible for 3 seasons instead of 4). But what does that do? All it does is force ill will.

At the same time, if Kesselring decided his better option would be to stay, then you’re inviting problems by having a potentially disgruntled player in your locker room.

Ironically, Northeastern played hardball with Michael Szmatula prior to his freshman year, when Szmatula wanted out in order to go to Denver, where his junior coach (Jim Montgomery) had just been hired as the Pioneers head coach. Szmatula played two seasons at Northeastern before transferring to Minnesota. Northeastern, in signing his transfer paperwork, blocked him from transferring to any other Hockey East school or Denver, because they suspected tampering had taken place.

Will this be a big loss for Merrimack? Potentially. It could be a double-whammy if he goes to Northeastern and is one of the better defensemen in Hockey East. Time will tell. Kesselring has a high ceiling, but we’ve seen players come to Merrimack with a lot of hype that don’t always turn out as projected. That’s not a slight at all on Kesselring as a player; all I’m saying is we’ll have to wait and see. If he fulfills his full potential, he has the ability to be an All-League defenseman with a bright NHL future. Whether or not that potential is realized, we’ll see down the road.

— I was a little surprised to see Matthieu Franche sign in the OHL, only because of his age. At 19 years old, he has one guaranteed year in the OHL left, but next season he’ll have to fight it out with a few other overagers. OHL teams are allowed to keep three 20-year-old players on their roster.

Franche going to the OHL leads me to believe there weren’t many other Division I offers on the table. But, it’s a lot closer to home than the U.S., so it could be a good landing spot for him to still play in front of family and friends.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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