Joey likes Kesler...what about you?

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.

2 through 5 are ; Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Nikolai Zherdev and Thomas Vanek.

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

Tri City

11 0 1 1 2




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.  

But to me, the steal of the first round is Zach Parise at 17, or Ryan Getzlaf at 19.  Or Perry at 28th.

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!

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