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Phil Kessel was selected fifth overall at the 2006 NHL draft. ((Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images))

Phil Kessel has decided to skip school in favour of an NHL career,signing a one-year deal with the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

The 18-year-old forwardwas the Bruins' first pick (fifth overall) in the 2006 draft.

"Phil is a player with world-class speed and gifted offensive talents,"Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement.

"We feel he is ready to begin his professional development and we are looking forward to seeing him compete at training camp."

Kessel played one season of college hockey at the University of Minnesota in 2005-06, finishing second on the team and sixth overall in league scoring with 18 goals and 51 points in 34 games. He led the club in plus/minus with a +22 rating.

The young American prospect was also named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's rookie of the year and earned a berth on the WCHA all-rookie ream.

Kessel, a native of Madison, Wis., played for the United States at two world junior hockey tournaments and led the 2006 tournament in scoring with one goal and ten assists.

Boasting an impressive mix of guile, skill and speed, Kessel helped guide the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2005 world under-18 hockey championship in the Czech Republic.

The forward finished the tournament as the runaway scoring leader with an impressive 16 points (nine goals) in six games.

In other signings Thursday:

  • Calgary inked forward Matthew Lombardi, who scored six goals and 26 points last season, his second with the Flames.
  • The Vancouver Canucks agreed to contracts with right-winger Tyler Bouck and defenceman Kevin Bieksa. Bouck, 26, had two points in 12 games in 2005-06, while the 25-year-old Bieksa earned six assists in 39 contests.
With files from the Canadian Press