The Curious Case of Ryan Kesler

Don’t call it a comeback.

Because it’s a lot more like a Benjamin Button thing.

At least that’s the case with Ryan Kesler.

The 32-year-old center is turning back the wheel of time in Anaheim. Kesler could potentially crack the 70-point plateau this season, a feat he has not accomplished since the 2010-11 campaign.

In 47 games with the Anaheim Ducks this season Kesler has managed 18 goals, 20 assists, and 38 points.

In the beginning

Ryan Kesler, Mats Sundin, Pavol Domitra, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Pacific Division, Goals, Assists, NHL, Hockey, Stanley Cup, Presidents' Trophy, Selke Trophy

Photo credit: Jeff Vinnick, NHLI via Getty Images.

Drafted in the first round (23rd overall) by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the Livonia, Michigan native spent ten years with the Canucks before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks in June of 2014.

Kesler rose to prominence as one of the league’s most elite two-way forwards during his tenure with the Canucks.

It was during the 2008-09 season where Kesler first began to shine as point producing forward. He was moved from the third to the second line, alongside Pavol Demitra and Mats Sundin, and consequently finished the season with 59 points. He would follow that up by notching 75 points in the 2009-10 season and 73 points in the 2010-11 campaign. Kesler would go on to help the Canucks win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and was himself awarded the Selke Trophy in 2011.

However, largely due to nagging injuries and shortened lock-out seasons, Kesler’s point production began to dry up after the 2010-11 campaign. It would have appeared that the aggressive forward had fallen back into a more defensively responsible style of play, his point production having plateaued somewhere around the 40-50 mark.

Respectable, yes, but nowhere near the Ryan Kelser of yesteryear.

Back at it again

Ryan Kesler, Mats Sundin, Pavol Domitra, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Pacific Division, Goals, Assists, NHL, Hockey, Stanley Cup, Presidents' Trophy, Selke Trophy

Photo credit: The Canadian Press.

That being said, the 2016-17 season must be the campaign of yesteryear because Ryan Kesler is looking like a beast out on the ice right now.

The Ducks sit atop the Pacific Division and they owe a large part of their first place success to the outstanding play of Ryan Kesler.

Kessler currently leads the team in points, is second in goals, and third in assists. He also happens to lead the Ducks in +/- (plus-13) and power play points (16). But why stop there? Kesler is also second on the team in shooting percentage (16.1) and third in faceoff wins percentage (57.4).

Looking forward

The Ducks have Kesler signed through to the 2020-21 season and it’s a good thing they do. His point production has steadily increased over his two seasons with the club and is projected to the same this time around.

He sports an “A” on his jersey and if his locker room presence is anything like his on ice play, Kesler will remain a valuable asset for the Ducks franchise for years to come.

With all the pieces in place, not least of which is Ryan Kesler and his dominant play, the Anaheim Ducks we all know and love are shaping up to make several seasons’ worth of cup runs.

 

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