Who's This Guy?
Ryan Kesler, aka Blake Price's favorite Canuck.
Position: Centre/Right Wing
Height: 6 feet 2 inches
Weight: 202 pounds
Born: August 31,1984 in the apocalyptic wasteland of Livonia, MI
The Canucks chose Mr. Kesler in the first round of the 2003 NHL entry draft, 23rd overall. It was an extremely strong draft year, notable for 3 things: 1) Hugh Jessiman??? 2) It will forever be a reminder that Steve 'Hands of Stone' Bernier was chosen before the Keslordian one, and there's only one name chosen after Kesler where you have to wonder what the Canucks scouting staff was thinking, which is our 3rd thing: Imagine how hated this team would be if they had Corey Perry in the lineup?
What'd He Do?
Managing to get almost a full season out of Kes is a good thing. After he underwent hip surgery, it's clear that while Kes is still a dominant player in the NHL, he's not the Selke trophy winning Ryan Kesler, nor is he the 41 goal-scoring version either. His struggles mirrored that of the team this year: Occasional glimpses of returning to form mixed with long periods of bleak nothingness. Still, his 25 goals was best on the team and his 43 points was... (breaks down sobbing uncontrollably) Oh COME ON! How in the hell do you expect me to paint a rosy picture of this? Overall, his goal production was average, but his assist totals dropped significantly. He also was about a full point below his average shooting percentage. There was also that whole trade thing. Yeah after the shocking deal in the summer where GM Mike Gillis traded away Cory Schneider to the Devils at the draft, we assumed we'd get some stability. That of course turned out to be completely opposite, as there were rumblings over in Sochi during the 2014 Olympics that Kesler had asked for a trade, and there were a number of teams calling Gillis during the deadline, with none of the deals sending enough back for the Canucks to pull the trigger. Kesler, for his part stated that he never asked for a trade, though Bruce Arthur, now of the Toronto Star still stands by what he was told by a source he won't name, stating that Kesler spoke openly in a bar of doing exactly that. And while he's also gone on record as wanting to be a Canuck for the rest of his career, the chances of that happening are about the same as my hair growing back.
Was He Any Good?
Were any of the Canucks good this year? You certainly can say he didn't keep pace with his peers.
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In a season that saw some pretty crazy line combinations, Kesler spent a good chunk of his time on the ice with Chris Higgins. The two clicked well at times, and it makes you wonder how well they would have done had Mike Santorelli not been injured.
What'd We Like?
Well there was this, from one of the few really good games they played this season
And this was all kinds of special, as for one moment, We Are All Canucks was a real thing.
Sweet, sweet backhand against the Jets
You want ultra-rare? How about a one-timer on the PP?
Cool. So what did we hate?
Well, as I mentioned this team really seemed to implode when Santorelli went down, and basically disabled the only line that was working semi-consistently. I also think that the whole trade debacle was just one more distraction in a season where they just seemed to come in waves.
So what now?
Much like we were told to prepare ourselves for life without Luongo, Canucks fans need to be ready without Ryan Kesler in blue & green. While it may not happen at the draft, and he may still be here to start next season, if the Canucks want to continue this reset, Trevor Linden and whoever he names to be the GM are going to have look at a number of options: who to buyout (While David Booth is the popular choice, I am thinking they'll jettison Jason Garrison instead), seeing if they can find someone crazy enough to take on Alex Edler's contract (if he'll waive that NTC, that is), a veteran goaltender to work with either Lack or Markstrom (yes, having them battle for a spot next year will be a good thing) and getting back a quality young center to replace one of the better ones we've seen in Canucks colours. If the Canucks address their aging core now with a couple tough choices, it could see them get back on track and avoid a rebuild situation like we see in Alberta.