Former Gophers star Kessel signs with NWHL’s New York Riveters

Former Gophers star Amanda Kessel is going pro as a member of the NWHL's New York Riveters.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Just months after getting her hockey career back on track following a two-year absence, former Minnesota Gophers star Amanda Kessel is set to become the highest-paid player in the National Women’s Hockey League.

The NWHL’s New York Riveters announced the move on Monday, signing Kessel to a one-year contract worth $26,000.

"I am beyond excited to join the New York Riveters and the NWHL next season," Kessel said in a statement. "It is a great opportunity to help the league continue to grow and be a future dream for young girls."

Kessel’s Gophers career began with the 2010-11 season, when she was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year, before leading Minnesota to back-to-back national championships in 2011-12 and 2012-13, winning the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top women’s college hockey player in the nation after her junior season.

Kessel took the 2013-14 season off in order to train and compete with the women’s Olympic team, leading the U.S. to a silver medal in Sochi, but a serious concussion delayed her return to the Gophers, forcing Kessel to miss the 2014-15 season.

The 2015-16 season began with Kessel still in recovery, before the Gophers announced her surprise return in February.

Kessel made the most of her final college season, scoring 11 goals (13 points) in 17 games played and powering the Gophers to another national title.

Founded in March, 2015, the NWHL is made up of four teams: the Riveters, Connecticut Whale, Boston Pride and Buffalo Beauts.