Canucks Player Autopsy: Ryan Kesler

He once shook his own hand just to see what all the fuss was about. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Who's this guy?

Ryan Kesler.

He also responds to the KesLORD, Kes, that photobombing guy, RK17, the nude guy from that magazine, Kelly Backes' #1 fan and Dave Bolland's BFF.

Position: Center (sorry, centre)

Shoots: Left Right

Height: 6'2''

Weight: 202 magnificent lbs

Born: August 31, 1984 in Livonia, Michigan. Gods aren't born, they simply are.

Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1st round (23rd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

What'd he do?

After the Cup run and his Selke nod last summer, it was announced that Kesler had a torn labrum in his hip. When the healing wasn't quick enough, doctors advised surgery in August 2011 which - though unrelated - would be the second hip surgery in five years). Kesler returned on October 18th to once again command the second line.

So was he any good?

Kesler centered just about every winger possible, from the Amex line with Booth/Higgins to Raymond, Lapierre, Burrows and Kassian. Throw in some lingering questions about his health and he took a step back from his stellar 2010-11 season. Even if he was busted up he still managed to finish fourth highest in points (49), third highest in goals (22), tied for second highest in PPG (8) and had the highest average TOI of all forwards (20:06).

What'd we like?

  • Two goal effort against Ottawa in November (his only multi-game goal of the season).
  • Three power play assists in a way over Calgary in December.
  • His shorty against Winnipeg in the opening two minutes of that winning effort.
  • That he's Ryan Friggin Kesler.

But he wasn't perfect either right?

Not even close. As stated above, there was the nagging question of was he rushed back from surgery too soon. Then there was the Hodgson factor: if Kesler was 100%, then he had an additional burden of increased defensive responsibilities because CoHo wasn't trusted in the same situations which helps explain, in part, his soft numbers. Or Kesler wasn't 100% but refused to step back to a limited third line role while CoHo stepped up in his place. We'll let the CDC hash that all out.

Part box car & part advanced, here's a brief view on his on-ice product the last two seasons.

2011-12 2010-11
Goals 22 41
PPG 8 15
Ponts 49 73
S% 9.9 15.8
FO% 53.6 57.4
CORSI Rel QoC 0.581 0.228
ES GFON/60 2.54 2.95
ES GAON/60 2.03 1.95
O Zone % 48% 50%

That CORSI Rel QoC jumps off the page. Last season he was the 10th highest on the team, behind the usual suspects like Malhotra, Hansen, Torres, Higgins, Lappy and even Tambellini. This season he was fourth, trailing only Hansen, Pahlsson and Higgins. He was simply used differently this season and it showed.

His biggest contribution to this year's playoffs?

23wk2fc_jpg_medium

via i40.tinypic.com

Le sigh.


So what now?

If you listen to talk radio (you hate yourself that much?) or take the words of Province/Sun beat writers without running to the nearest convenience store and chugging a bag of salt, then you already know that Kesler will be traded this summer. Why? Simple really: Vancouver fans need to hate something and if Luongo isn't it here it may as well by Kesler. Don't shake your head, that's literally what Vancouver media is tabling. Besides nothing will get this team back on course quicker than to cut one of their paltry few heart-and-soul players while simultaneously gutting the center position to plug it with the likes of farm hands like Jordan Schroeder, Stephan Schneider or - oh what the hell - Prab Rai.

Kesler is a core piece of this team; beyond the Sedins, is there any bigger player? This isn't a Mike Richards situation where he had to be moved simply to stop him from doing blow off prostitutes between periods. This also isn't to excuse the reality of the situation either: injuries or not, RK17 took a step back in 2011-12 and the lack of secondary offense that doomed them down the stretch and against Los Angeles was one of the many consequences.

Does Kesler need better wingers? Maybe. Consistent wingers may be more like it. Booth isn't going anywhere (probably) but maybe the group needs one more big body to compliment the trio, pushing Higgins back with Hansen and "fill in the blank" at center.

Does Kesler need to adjust his game? I'd agree, albeit not an overwhelming transformation. Kesler is barreling in on 30 years old and can't play the smashmouth style he started his career with. Perhaps that means channeling his inner Henrik and learning to dish off more, using his speed to draw defenseman and then finding his wingers rather than trying to force every regular season game like it's the VAN/NSH series where he split every pairing and rattled off a highlight reel goal.

One more: I'd also love to see less post-whistle theatrics. Kesler is a leader on this team (by virtue of his stats and cap hit) who should leave the scrums to the rank and file around him. I liked the 2010-11 version better: punish them on the scoreboard and then go photobomb a teammate. Everyone wins.

There's certainly some work to do on the coaching end as to how to use Kesler next year, but for now the guy needs his longer summer to heal up (he admitted as much). If - for some assbackwards reason - he's wearing a new uniform by October then the inmates are running this asylum.

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