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Kesler out indefinitely for Ducks after offseason hip surgery

GM Murray says 'no timeline whatsoever' for center's return, hope to have him back by Christmas

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler is out indefinitely after having offseason hip surgery.

"As of right now, there is no timeline whatsoever," general manager Bob Murray told the Ducks website Friday. "He couldn't skate [during the second half of the season]. No push-off on his right leg. He has to rebuild his glutes and quads. That's what we're in the process of doing right now. I'm hopeful to have him back before Christmas, but that's all I'm going to say right now."

 

[FANTASY SPIN: Kesler injury opens door for Rakell, others]

 

Kesler, 33, had surgery in Colorado on June 8 to remove several pieces of floating hip capsule, an ailment that limited his mobility and goal-scoring during the second half of last season.

He had 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in 82 games last season, and had eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games. The Ducks advanced to the Western Conference Final before losing to the Nashville Predators in six games.

"You know how Kesler is, he's pushing it pretty good, but we're also pushing back and just taking our time," Murray said.

It was Kesler's best offensive season since 2010-11, when he had 73 points (41 goals, 32 assists) in 82 games and won the Selke Trophy as the League's best defensive forward with the Vancouver Canucks.

Last season, he won an NHL career-high 1,029 faceoffs and led the League with 773 faceoffs taken and 429 wins in the defensive zone. Kesler was plus-8, his best rating since he was plus-11 with Vancouver in 2011-12. He finished second in Selke voting behind center Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins.

Video: NYR@ANA: Kesler tallies PPG on tip-in from the slot

The Ducks also will begin the season without defensemen Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, who each had offseason surgery to fix a torn labrum. Murray said he's hopeful they will be able to return by Nov. 1.

Lindholm, 23, took a step back from his first three seasons with the Ducks. He had NHL career lows in points (20), shots on goal (94) and games (66), and had five power-play points after finishing with 15 in 2015-16.

Vatanen regressed to 24 points (three goals, 21 assists) in 71 games after having at least 37 points in back-to-back seasons. He also had a 2.6 shooting percent on 117 SOG; his NHL average is 7.0.

Shoulder discomfort began to surface for Vatanen in the playoffs. He missed the last three games of the Ducks' sweep of the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference First Round and the first two games of a seven-game, second-round series win against the Edmonton Oilers.

"They're looking fine. They're shooting the puck fine, but that's our future, we're going to be pretty careful with this," Murray said. "I don't know who's going to play first, that doesn't matter."

Video: ANA@WSH: Kesler buries Fowler's pass to cut deficit

Anaheim goaltender John Gibson put in extensive work on his hips and stomach to try to prevent the lower-body injuries that sidelined him at the end of the regular season and caused him to leave after the first period of Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Predators. Gibson missed Game 6 and Anaheim was eliminated.

"That's got to be eliminated from his game and he knows that," Murray said of Gibson's recurring injuries. "He knows that can't continue if he wants to be a No. 1 goaltender."

Gibson's durability issues were the prime reason the Ducks sought a more experienced backup goalie this offseason. Anaheim signed Ryan Miller to a two-year, $4 million contract on July 1, which should provide insurance if Gibson's injuries persist. Miller won the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goalie in 2009-10 with the Buffalo Sabres. 

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