The Anaheim Ducks had two great forwards in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Beyond that, they mostly had some promising young depth, but that was about it, especially after the Bobby Ryan trade. The Ducks were looking to add another big piece to their forward corps, particularly a second line center. Well, they have done just that. The Ducks have acquired Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks.
Today is the first day of the NHL Draft, and that is usually a time for trades, but the Ducks and Canucks decided to get to it early. In exchange for Kesler, the Canucks got Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and the 24th pick in this year’s Draft. The Ducks will be hoping to get the Kesler of old, the one from before his injury that limited him to 17 games two years ago. This past season, he scored 25 goals and 43 points in 77 games, which is solid. He was a minus-15, but I won’t put too much stock in that, especially given that he is a former Selke winner and multiple nominee for that award. Although, he could also be a step slow now post-injury, but he is still clearly a guy who will net you about 25 goals a season. Kesler is only 29, and he is on a two-year deal. A healthy Kesler is a very good secondary center, and the Ducks have enough young players to not have to worry about parting with a couple, or giving up a late first-round pick.
The Canucks probably did not secure equal value for Kesler, but they were in a tricky situation and seem to be in the beginnings of at least a slight rebuild. They have a new GM and a new coach and did not make the playoffs last season, and they probably won’t this season. By the time they are ready to return to the postseason, Kesler’s deal will be done. Personally, I like Bonino, who will likely step into Kesler’s minutes. It took him a little while to stick in the NHL, but he just turned 26 and he scored 22 goals and 49 points last year. If he can do that for Vancouver, that’s not really much of a difference in performance from Kesler. Sbisa was part of the trade for Chris Pronger that sent him to Philly, and Sbisa was considered a nice prospect at the time, and so when I saw him name I still had a bit of that on the brain. However, he really hasn’t done anything in the NHL year. He’s still only 24, though. There’s time for him to grow into at least a middling blueliner. And maybe the Canucks will hit on their pick.
Neither of these changes represent a sea change for either team, but they are notable. The Ducks have made a win now move, which makes sense given their regular season performance the last couple of years. The Canucks are clearly looking toward the future. I’m starting to wonder if anybody else might be on the move, including a couple of Swedish twins.