Ryan Kesler Has Been Everything the Anaheim Ducks Wanted, And More

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Oct 13, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman

Andre Benoit

(61) trips Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) as he carries the puck and is awarded a penalty shot during the third period at First Niagara Center. Anaheim beats Buffalo 5 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

2. Power-Play

Kesler’s addition has given the Ducks the ability to either load up on the first power-play unit or have him featured on the second unit. Kesler is a physical player who can fight for positioning and screen a goaltender: this is how he made a living on the Canucks’ power-play, scoring 54 power-play goals and 109 power-play points in his final five full-seasons with the Canucks (discounting the 2012-2013 lockout-shortened season, where he only played 17 games. Kesler did score two power-play goals and five power-play points that season as well).

Kesler on the first unit allows Getzlaf to move to play one of the points along with Sami Vatanen. Getzlaf, while he has a big body, cannot use his playmaking prowess when used as a screener. Now, Kesler can either take the half-wall or park in front of the net while Getzlaf and Vatanen create chances for players like Perry, Beleskey, Devante Smith-Pelly, or Patrick Maroon. On the second unit, Kesler can play the same role as a screener, but he becomes an option as a primary puck-handler. Neither William Karlsson nor Rickard Rakell are as offensively gifted as Kesler in the goal scoring or playmaking departments. On the second power-play, Cam Fowler and Kesler become the primary offensive creators, with players such as Hampus Lindholm and Silfverberg.

Kesler is also a huge boost to the power-play because of his ability to win faceoffs. Controlling the opening faceoff on a power-play can make the difference between sustaining offensive pressure and spending 20 seconds trying to re-establish position inside the offensive zone. Kesler has 25 faceoff wins on the power-play, more than all other Anaheim players combined (23). He is also the only Anaheim player who is above 50% in the faceoff circle on the power-play (52.1%). The Ducks are currently tied for 14th in the NHL with a 20.0% conversion rate on the power-play (12/60) after finishing 22nd in the league with a 16.0% conversion rate last season.

Kesler is third on the Ducks in power-play ice time per game among forwards at 2:59 (just behind Perry and Getzlaf). He’s fourth in power-play ice time overall on the team behind Vatanen and the two aforementioned forwards. He’s also second on the team in power-play points, with six (behind Vatanen, who has ten). Kesler’s presence on the power-play has made the Ducks a much more difficult team to defend when given the man advantage.