The Ducks have signed center Ryan Kesler
to a six-year contract extension through the 2021-22 NHL season. Per club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Kesler, 30 (8/31/84), appeared in 81 regular season games last year, scoring 20-27=47 points with 75 penalty minutes (PIM). Kesler led the club in faceoff percentage (56.3%, ninth in NHL), faceoff wins (937), shots (205), and ranked second among forwards in hits (169), takeaways (47) and blocked shots (69). He added 7-6=13 points with a +2 rating and 24 PIM in 16 playoff games, leading the Ducks in faceoff wins (221, second in NHL) and percentage (57.6%, fourth in NHL). Each of his six playoff assists were primary (first assist) and either tied the score or put the Ducks ahead. In addition, four of his seven postseason goals came in the third period.
Acquired with a third-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver in exchange for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and first-round and third-round selections in the 2014 NHL Draft on June 27, 2014, Kesler has scored 202-238=440 points with a +20 rating and 669 PIM in 736 career NHL games with Anaheim and Vancouver. The 6-2, 208-pound center has also collected 19-32=51 points with 95 PIM in 73 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. A 2011 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner and 2011 NHL All-Star, Kesler owns a 53.3 career faceoff percentage (6,309-for-11,823) and has led his respective teams in faceoff wins in six of the last eight seasons.
A native of Livonia, Michigan, Kesler is a two-time Olympian with Team USA and 2010 silver medal winner. He has appeared in the last two Olympic Winter Games, helping lead the U.S. to the championship game in Vancouver with two goals (2-0=2) in six contests. He has also won gold at the 2004 World Junior Championship in Finland and 2002 Under-18 Championship in Slovakia. Kesler was originally selected by Vancouver in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft.
Kesler spoke to media via conference call Wednesday afternoon:
On when he felt a part of the Ducks core group last season
I think it’s tough to say one point that made me part of the group. I think it evolved as the year went on. I felt more comfortable with voicing my own opinion and just battling with the guys night in and night out. You become a family. I definitely feel a part of the core group now.
On the Ducks making signing him a priority
The feeling was mutual. They wanted me and I wanted to stay. It’s a great organization, great owners, great management that wants to win, great coaches, great trainers. To be a part of this organization for six more years, it’s a good feeling. My family and I are very happy.
On how close the team is to winning a Stanley Cup after the offseason moves
Obviously we lost some friends and teammates, but it’s part of the business. On the flip side, we picked up some really good guys. I’m excited. We’re close. We’re right there. We just need to go and do it, start from scratch again and start this ride all over. We’re all excited to get going again.
On the role the offseason moves had in his decision to stay
It proved to me the owners and management want to win. To be honest, they didn’t have to prove that to me. Just knowing them and talking to them at the end of this year, and talking to them a bit in the summer, the way the season ended left a sour taste in our mouths. We all thought we deserved better. We want to win the Stanley Cup. Our team is young, and we have some really good pieces. We just need to put them all together. I’m just excited to be part of this group going forward.
On reuniting with Kevin Bieksa
We were roommates for like seven years. We came into the league at the same time. We grew up together and our families have grown up together. It’s exciting. Obviously, you grow friendships in this league, and when I left Vancouver last year, that was probably one of the hardest things, leaving your friends you see every day. He’s a warrior and I love the way he plays. To be able to battle with him again, it’s exciting.
On what people can expect from Bieksa in Anaheim
He’s a professional. He comes to play every night. Great leader in the locker room, a guy who sticks up for his teammates. Skates well, moves the puck well. He’s a pain in the ass to play against, and that’s what I like the most. He has that intensity and that attitude on the ice that no one likes to play against.
On what he does in training-wise to stay in shape
I have a really good program I started two years ago. Last year was basically my first full summer of being able to do that program, and it worked out very well for me. I don’t think I have to change anything. I know my body very well, and I take care of myself. I have a routine that works, and I’m just going to keep it going.
On how confident he is he can play out his contract
Very confident. This isn’t my last contract. I want another one after this. Right now, I’m sitting here saying I won’t be done. My family supports that, and they know. When that time comes, I’ll be ready to retire, but right now I’m fully confident I can play out this contract and get another one after.
On the pressure to win a Stanley Cup
I don’t think this team looks at is as pressure. People are going to say that from the outside, but that dressing room is so close and we hold ourselves to the highest standard. That group is not satisfied until we win a Stanley Cup. When we do win that Stanley Cup, I don’t think we’ll be satisfied then either. We’re gonna want another one. We have the group to do it. We have all the pieces. We just need to put them together. We were one game away from going to the Final, and that experience will help us next year.
On regrets from last postseason
We needed a killer instinct in Game 6. We didn’t have it. There are two ways we can go about it: We can sulk about it or we can learn from it. I’m gonna make sure, just like all the other leaders on this team, that we learn from this and we learn not to let it happen again. That’s our job as leaders on this team. That’s not gonna happen again, I’ll tell you that.