While reading the always illuminating Joey Kenward here, he mentioned that Kesler and his position in the 2003 1st Rd. should be considered a steal. He was taken 23rd overall. Lets take a look...
He is right, it is an extraordinary class. 1st overall was Marc Andre Fleury, and all he ever did was win a Cup so far, albeit with a stacked Pens team. So far so good.
Staal did win a Cup too. Played in the Olympics. Struggling this year, but still a great player.
Nathan Horton. Zherdev and Vanek have all shown to be talented in different ways. But none of them come close to playing Kesler's all around game. But there are a number of players in that year that do.
Here is the skinny on that class; ( Games Played/Goals/Assists/Points/+/- /PIM )
|1||Pittsburgh Penguins||Marc-Andre Fleury||Cape Breton||290||0||6||6||0||16||290||143||102||30||2.83||.907|
|2||Carolina Hurricanes||Eric Staal||Peterborough||465||185||227||412||-6||343|
|3||Florida Panthers||Nathan Horton||Oshawa||408||139||145||284||29||372|
|4||Columbus Blue Jackets||Nikolai Zherdev||CSKA Moscow||365||99||140||239||-46||203|
|5||Buffalo Sabres||Thomas Vanek||U. of Minnesota||380||166||138||304||36||250|
|6||San Jose Sharks||Milan Michalek||Ceske Budejovice||379||113||134||247||38||202|
|7||Nashville Predators||Ryan Suter||U.S. National U-18||380||26||123||149||5||306|
|8||Atlanta Thrashers||Braydon Coburn||Portland||283||24||70||94||14||269|
|9||Calgary Flames||Dion Phaneuf||Red Deer||391||75||156||231||17||548|
|10||Montreal Canadiens||Andrei Kostitsyn||CSKA Moscow 2||233||64||71||135||16||109|
|11||Philadelphia Flyers||Jeff Carter||Sault Ste. Marie||375||144||130||274||28||249|
|12||New York Rangers||Hugh Jessiman||Dartmouth College|
|13||Los Angeles Kings||Dustin Brown||Guelph||417||106||131||237||-65||304|
|14||Chicago Blackhawks||Brent Seabrook||Lethbridge||380||29||108||137||53||352|
|15||New York Islanders||Robert Nilsson||Leksand||242||34||80||114||-18||90|
|16||San Jose Sharks||Steve Bernier||Moncton||314||71||72||143||10||176|
|17||New Jersey Devils||Zach Parise||North Dakota||392||153||167||320||60||135|
|18||Washington Capitals||Eric Fehr||Brandon||166||33||34||67||33||56|
|19||Anaheim Ducks||Ryan Getzlaf||Calgary||359||106||230||336||66||380|
|20||Minnesota Wild||Brent Burns||Brampton||362||37||94||131||-2||223|
|21||Boston Bruins||Mark Stuart||Colorado College||242||12||21||33||27||246|
|22||Edmonton Oilers||Marc Pouliot||Rimouski||162||18||28||46||-5||65|
|23||Vancouver Canucks||Ryan Kesler||Ohio State||389||85||119||204||13||337|
|24||Philadelphia Flyers||Mike Richards||Kitchener||358||105||170||275||30||329|
|25||Florida Panthers||Anthony Stewart||Kingston||105||4||8||12||-4||38|
|26||Los Angeles Kings||Brian Boyle||St. Sebastian's (High-MA)||103||12||4||16||-11||93|
|27||Los Angeles Kings||Jeff Tambellini||U. of Michigan||172||18||27||45||-25||64|
|28||Anaheim Ducks||Corey Perry||London||354||115||143||258||38||427|
|29||Ottawa Senators||Patrick Eaves||Boston College||296||55||54||109||10||116|
|30||St. Louis Blues||Shawn Belle||
When You look at that list and their production, a few things jump out.
The Anaheim Ducks OWNED that 1st Rd. Getzlaf and Perry at 19 and 28 combine for 594 points, a Cup, and two of the top young forwards in the NHL. Staal has some high numbers, but also has played 465 NHL games, the most of that years #1s.
When you look through the names, you are totally in agreement with Mr. Kenward. That class was stacked. 6-10 had varying degrees of success. Then Philadelphia, the second big winners of that year, took Jeff Carter at 11, and later followed that up with the other leader most often compared to Kesler, Mike Richards at 24.
Looking at just the numbers, Richards is the hands down winner, right? What the hell was Nonis thinking? He should have taken Richards! But what most Canuck fans are starting to realize is that Kesler will go through a wall to win. For me, the eye opener was what he told a trainer during that epic series with the Stars in '07, breaking a finger and telling the guy to "cut it off".
"Yeah...OK Ryan. Let me get the boning knife. Oh damn...its back in the room...give me a sec?"
I am the first to say that Mike Richards is a wonderful player. But I think when all is said and done Kesler might be considered the most complete. His star shone brighter at the recent Games, for instance. It would be an interesting question to put to various GMs. He would certainly beat Richards in a players' vote of of who they least like to play against!
Just for shits and giggles, a few other things also jump out. Like...WTF were the Rangers thinking? Hugh Jessiman? Not one NHL game for the Rangers, and now toiling in Milwaukee in the hope of being a Pred. Another FAIL that year was Shawn Belle for the Blues, but he was taken 30th overall. To lesser degrees, guys like Patrick Eaves, Anthony Stewart, and Jeff Tambellini haven't set the league on fire. Marc Poulliot, another bust that year, was taken by the Oilers right before we took Kesler. Can you imagine Kesler as an Oiler?
So, while that draft class is absolutely stacked, and has NHLers up and down the list, I have to say that Mr. Kenward is partially right. The Canuck fan in me says damn right, Kesler at 23 in such a stacked draft is awesome.
Kesler at 23 and Mike Richards right afterwards are great players, and getting better all the time. But the numbers have to count for something too. Getzlaf and Parise have, along with Staal ( not a "steal" when you are 2nd overall ) of course, more goals and assists than everyone else that year, and are NHL stars.
Both Richards and Kesler are as well, and are still getting better. They both have to be considered steals, when you think about what a total package both bring to their respective teams, and how late in the 1st Rd. they were picked.
There is no doubt that Mr Kenward has an argument for our Kesler as the steal of that draft.
It is just that there are so many to choose from!