Ryan Kesler Trade: Ducks Get Bigger, Better in Effort to Compete with Kings

Dave Lozo@@davelozoNHL National Lead WriterJune 27, 2014

USA Today

There's some good news and some bad news for Ryan Kesler on Friday.

The good news: Kesler has been traded from the tailspinning Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks, turning a very good team into one that is a legitimate contender for a Stanley Cup in 2014-15.

The bad news: Kesler has to wear the new Ducks jerseys, ones that look like they were created by someone with a debilitating vision disease that has yet to be diagnosed.

ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 23:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on against the Los Angeles Kings at Honda Center on January 23, 2014 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Fashion problems aside, the Ducks did very well to land a big, productive No. 2 center behind Ryan Getzlaf and a 2015 third-round pick without giving up top-flight assets in return.

The Ducks parted ways with the No. 24 pick in the 2014 draft, scheduled to begin Friday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and maintained the No. 10 pick, acquired from the Ottawa Senators last year in the Bobby Ryan trade. Center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the No. 85 pick also went to Vancouver, making this quite the steal for the Ducks.

With Kesler holding all the power with his no-trade clause, this was the inevitable end for the Canucks once he requested a trade. It could have been a bloody beating out by the sea wall, but instead it was a fair deal, all things considered.

The Ducks, however, get to reap the benefits while weakening a team within their division.

Kesler is 29 years old and at 6'2", 206 pounds, brings the size down the middle required to compete with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, who beat the Ducks in seven games during the second round this year. The Kings' top-three centers are Anze Kopitar (6'3", 224), Jeff Carter (6'4", 212) and Jarret Stoll (6'1", 213), and that beef took its toll against Bonino (6'1", 196) and the Ducks.

Kesler hasn't scored fewer than 25 goals in an 82-game season since 2008-09, and he is coming off a 25-goal, 43-point campaign in 2013-14. His durability will be a question raised by skeptics of the deal, but he played 77 games last season and no fewer than 80 games in an 82-game season since 2007-08. Hip surgery along with foot and hand injuries cost him most of the shortened 2013 season, but he showed he can still play a full season in 2013-14.

Nick Bonino vs. Ryan Kesler, 2013-14
PlayerGoalsAssistsPointsCorsi%Corsi relQoC
Nick Bonino22274949.7-0.427.8
Ryan Kesler25184352.4+1.729.6
NHL.com, ExtraSkater.com

Despite having slightly poorer numbers than Bonino last season, Kesler should be an upgrade for the Ducks as their second-line center.

Bonino is only 26 years old, skates like he's powered by rocket fuel and used his speed to have a career best 22-goal, 49-point season. He's also a much better bargain than Kesler, as Bonino has a $1.9 million cap hit for the next three years, while Kesler has a $5 million cap hit over the next two years. But the underlying numbers show Kesler is likely to have a much better season in Anaheim than Bonino had last year if he's deployed the same way.

Using ExtraSkater's helpful comparison tool, Kesler had more zone starts outside the offensive zone and faced a far stronger quality of competition, yet he was a better possession player and didn't enjoy the same level of luck as Bonino, who had a PDO of 103.6. Kesler likely won't be as sheltered as Bonino, but he's capable of a 30-goal season and providing excellent two-way play if things break right in Anaheim.

Sbisa, 24, missed 44 games with an assortment of injuries last season, but he carries the pedigree of being the No. 19 pick in the 2008 draft. He is under team control through 2015-16 and could be a replacement for Jason Garrison, who is rumored to be on the trading block (update: Garrison has now been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning).

Considering the circumstances, the Canucks did fine for themselves in this trade.

But the Ducks took a big stride toward competing with the Kings by getting bigger and better. Anaheim still has about $20 million in cap space and by acquiring Kesler became a much more attractive destination for the top free agents.


Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.

All statistics via NHL.com, Extra Skater or CapGeek.


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