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

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Oct 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) blocks a shot during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

3. Penalty Kill

Kesler’s addition has also helped the other end of special teams: the penalty kill. Kesler broke into the NHL as a defensive forward, and his initial job with the Vancouver Canucks was killing penalties, usually alongside Alexandre Burrows. Eventually, Kesler became an offensive threat, but he is still one of the premier two-way centers in the league, as evidenced by his Selke Trophy.

In his days with Vancouver, Kesler was always ranked in the top three among shorthanded ice time for forwards. In Anaheim, Kesler leads all Ducks forwards with 2:17 of shorthanded ice time and is second to only Francois Beauchemin.

The addition of both Kesler and Nate Thompson have helped cut down Getzlaf’s minutes on the penalty kill. Getzlaf was second to Daniel Winnik among forwards in shorthanded ice time per game for the Ducks last season (2:07). This season, that number is down to 1:16 per game, which is only sixth among Ducks forwards (behind Kesler, Andrew Cogliano, Silfverberg, Thompson, and Smith-Pelly). The Ducks were 13th in the NHL last year with an 82.2% penalty kill rate. This season, they are 8th at 85.4%.

Part of Kesler’s strength on the penalty kill is, again, his ability to win faceoffs. Kesler leads the Ducks in shorthanded faceoff wins (16). Again, winning and controlling the opening faceoff on special teams can be the difference in spending the time hemmed in the defensive zone or clearing the puck for an easy first 20 seconds.