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Kesler's return can change fantasy landscape

by Sergei J. Feldman
The Vancouver Canucks are once again believed to be Stanley Cup contenders this season, and their chances of justifying that label just increased significantly.

Ryan Kesler
Center - VAN
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 3 | +/-: 0
Stud two-way center Ryan Kesler joined the lineup Tuesday night against the visiting New York Rangers for the first time after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in the offseason.

The debut could've gone better for Kesler, last year's Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, as he was held pointless with two PIMs and three shots on net. Still, Kesler's return could shake up the fantasy hockey landscape as the season progresses. 

Consider that he finished as the sixth-ranked overall fantasy players in standard Yahoo! leagues last year. Moreover, he was drafted at an average pick of 34.8 in standard Yahoo! leagues this year. Point is, he's a game-changing asset any way you slice it.

Don't worry about a fluke season, either. After a few seasons of getting acclimated to the NHL and finding his game, Kessler exploded onto the scene in 2009-10, a season that saw him collect 25 goals, 50 assists, 104 PIMs and 214 shots. The following season, Kesler scored more (42) and threw more pucks to the net (260).

He also played 82 games in three straight seasons and at least 80 in four straight. So while an injury sidelined him for some of October, it's likely that you'll get durability out of a model of productivity for the rest of the season.
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