Mar 6, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler (17) checks Dallas Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar (55) during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ducks Links: Changed Identity, Kesler Adds to Rivalry

Good afternoon Anaheim Ducks fans! Here are your daily links for today. Grab yourself a cup of coffee during your lunch break and enjoy a little light reading on your favorite hockey team.

How Anaheim Ducks Identity Has Changed During the Offseason – Bobby Kittleberger, Bleacher Report

“The addition of Kesler gives them a strong top six but with little upside on their third and fourth lines.

Whether or not that works for Anaheim is a question of how their top players handle that kind of responsibility. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have proven themselves to be capable of carrying their team and putting up Hart Trophy-worth seasons. Yet both have had a history of being somewhat spotty and inconsistent with their offense.

The Ducks have essentially bet the farm on their top six. Fans had better hope those players are up to the task.”

While the Ducks certainly have become star-studded at the top, the third and fourth lines are not as bad as some think. Head coach Bruce Boudreau is notorious for mixing and matching his lines, meaning guys such as Devante Smith-Pelly, Patrick Maroon and Matt Beleskey, who sometimes find themselves on the top-line with Getzlaf and Perry, will play on the third or fourth lines. Those are pretty decent options to have.

A lot will depend on Dany Heatley as he appears to be the biggest mystery of the Ducks’ forwards. It would be utterly absurd to assume Heatley will sniff the 50-goal mark as he did in back-to-back seasons from 2005-2007, but it isn’t ridiculous to picture Heatley adding around 20 goals for the Ducks next season. His time in Minnesota was a bust, but he is only a few seasons removed from tallying 64 points (26 G, 38 A) in 2010-2011 and 53 points (24 G, 29 A) in 2011-2012. Reuniting with Getzlaf and Perry, teammates of Heatley during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, could rekindle some magic left in the tank.

The bottom-six will fare just fine. The only way for the young guys to improve is to give them quality ice-time. Jakob Silfverberg, Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, Rickard Rakell, Smith-Pelly and Maroon will certainly get their opportunities to shine this season. On paper, it appears the mix between veterans and youth is perfect. That mix will be put to the test this season.

Kesler addition will fuel Ducks-Kings rivalry - Katie Strang, ESPN.com

“[Craig] Johnson thinks that rivalry will retain its fierce competition, especially with the offseason additions made by Anaheim, namely acquiring Ryan Kesler via trade. 

Kesler’s presence will give the Ducks more depth down the middle — a necessity if they want to match up against the defending champs. Last spring, that might have hamstrung the Ducks in the series against L.A.”

Former Duck Craig Johnson is absolutely right. If anyone talked about hockey in California before the Ducks and Kings won their Stanley Cups, people would look at you as if you had three eyes and two noses.

In 2014, California is home to two of the best teams in the NHL. The Kings are coming off their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. The Ducks won their second straight Pacific Division title and broke many franchises records last season. Hockey in California is here to stay.

The Ducks acquisition of Ryan Kesler only increases the intensity of the Freeway Face-Off rivalry. Kesler is a gritty player and will do whatever it takes to win. Anyone that doubts that notion should be reminded of his one-handed empty net goal in the 2010 Winter Olympics against Team Canada. A++ for effort.

Adding Kesler is a great addition for the Ducks and will certainly help Anaheim compete with L.A. down the middle. Ducks fans should be excited to see Kesler in a Ducks uniform. Nick Bonino, who was part of the trade that sent Kesler to Anaheim, is coming off a breakout season, but he doesn’t give you the intangibles that Kesler brings on a night-in, night-out basis. The Ducks will be better with Kesler moving forward as opposed to if they kept Bonino.

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