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Player Preview: Ryan Kesler

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Kyle Shohara

As we approach training camp and the start of the 2014-15 season, will preview each player on the roster, highlighting last season’s accomplishments and providing insight into what you can expect this season. Our preview continues with Ryan Kesler.

Anaheim’s search to find an elite center to play behind Ryan Getzlaf was fulfilled when they pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks on June 27.

The rumor mill had the Ducks linked to Kesler months before the deal, including at the trade deadline, when the team reportedly made a hard push to acquire his services.

What the Ducks sent in return was substantial, however, as the cost to get Kesler was Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, the 24th overall pick (first round) and the 85th overall pick (third round) in the 2014 NHL Draft. Ducks general manager Bob Murray said that’s what it takes to acquire premiere talent.

“You have to give up good players to get a player like Ryan,” he said. “It was difficult to give up Nick and Luca, but we felt it was a time to make a little bit of a move to improve our hockey team. It's not easy, but we feel like we're a better team than we were yesterday. I don’t know how much closer we are [to a Cup], but we’ll find out come October and November."

Kesler has one goal in mind, and that’s to win hockey’s ultimate prize. “I’m going to Anaheim to win a championship,” he said. “That’s going to my sole goal, and my team’s sole goal. My game will never change. You guys know the way I play. It’s going to be all-out and leave it all out there every shift, every game.”

The 2013-14 season marked Kesler’s 10th year in the league, all with the Canucks. The Livonia, Michigan native recorded 43 points (25g/18a) points with 81 penalty minutes in 77 games, and led the club in goals, game-winning goals (5), power-play goals (9) and shots (239). Kesler also ranked second in hits (133) and takeaways (47), and third in scoring and power-play scoring (9g/7a). Kesler led Canucks forwards in blocked shots (68), shorthanded time-on-ice (169:58) and average shorthanded time-on-ice (2:12), while pacing the team in faceoff wins (740) and attempts (1,406), and ranked second in faceoff percentage (52.6).

Kesler has represented Team USA at the last two Olympic Winter Games, winning silver in 2010 at Vancouver. At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Kesler recorded four points (1g/3a) while averaging 18:56 TOI in six games. Kesler’s plus-6 rating ranked tied for second among USA players.

WATCH: Kesler as a new Ducks employee
WATCH: Kesler on his visit to Anaheim
WATCH: Kesler throws out the first pitch at Angel Stadium

Kesler’s stellar play during Vancouver’s season-long seven-game, 10-day road trip in October earned him the NHL’s Third Star of the Week honor. In those seven games, Kesler racked up six goals and nine points, with two of them (including the OT winner) against the Blues in the Canucks’ road trip finale on October 25. Kesler unleashed 35 shots on goal during the seven-game road trip, including eight in the win against the Blues.

Kesler was the 23rd overall selection in the 2003 NHL Draft, just four picks after Ryan Getzlaf (19) and six before Corey Perry (29).

19: The number of points (7g/12a) Kesler recorded in 25 postseason games during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Kesler led the Canucks to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.

20: Kesler’s rookie number with the Vancouver Canucks. It wasn’t until 2007 that Kesler made the switch to his now-familiar No. 17.

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