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This man is deadly, efficient and valuable. Ryan Kesler's play at both ends of the ice has earned him a nomination and strong consideration for the Hart Trophy as the regular season MVP and now his postseason play has made him the strong favorite for the playoff MVP honors.
Kesler is behind in points only to offensive specialist and teammate, Henrik Sedin. He has 18 points (7G, 11A) through 18 games, three behind Sedin and just one ahead of Krejci and Horton. Three of his goals have come five-on-five and four while on the power play, so he's scoring in both situations.
What is remarkable about Kesler is his offensive upside. In previous seasons he has been known primarily—almost entirely—as a defensive specialist. Ryan has developed phenomenally this season, improving his offensive production significantly without sacrificing his defensive game.
Kesler has developed into one of the league's premiere two-way forwards. He shows signs that he has every intention of continuing to grow this way.
Net-presence is Ryan Kesler's greatest offensive value. He is an incredibly strong player. Not only do defenders have trouble moving him, but even while in front of his opponent's netminder, he loves to play hard and dirty. He isn't afraid to give a defender a nasty beating to establish himself in front of the net for a screen or a deflection.
He's good at deflections too. It was Kesler's tip-in goal—after winning the offensive zone face off—that tied up Game 7 of the Vancouver-San Jose series with just over a minute to go to send the game into overtime.
Kesler also shoots. He shoots a lot, too. With 58 shots sent on net, Kesler is behind only Daniel Sedin among players participating in the final round.
Let's look at his stats at the other end of the ice, which are really impressive.
Kesler has 56 hits, good for third among players still competing for the drink from the Cup, behind teammates Kevin Bieksa and Maxim Lapierre. He has recorded 22 of both blocked shots and takeaways while only coughing up the biscuit on six occasions. He is also operating at a 54.7 percent efficiency in the faceoff circle while taking almost 40 percent of his team's draws.
A plus-six rating is also respectable and, with nine even strength points, it means only three goals have been scored while he has been on the ice while skating five-on-five.
Also, judging by his time on ice during special teams play (3:21 average power play TOI per game, 2:59 average shorthanded TOI per game), his contributions to his team are incredibly valuable.
He is most certainly the most valuable player in the final round.
This guy is a great player and his contributions to his team's success cannot be taken lightly in consideration for the Smythe. He is the favorite right now and, should Vancouver win the final round, look for him to be the unquestionable winner.