During the media meet-up at the Anaheim Ducks training camp today, general manager Bob Murray gave away the bad news that two forwards would have to miss the entirety of the 2019-2020 NHL season.
Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves were the two unfortunate players that will miss the season, but how much do these absences affect the Anaheim Ducks, how bad really is this news? Taking a closer look at Kesler and Eaves, both of them have been fan-favorites at one time or another, so it would seem like the kind of news that wrecks a season before it even begins. But, considering their previous performances, the news of their absences might be a blessing for the Ducks.
Ryan Kesler’s Unfortunate Regression
Starting off with the Vancouver Canucks, Kesler was a gem of a defensive center, putting up over thirty points by his fourth season, and he was capable of playing eighty-two games by his second season. Kesler really took off in 2009-2010 when he finished with a stat line of 82 GP, 25 G, 50 A, 75 TP, 104 PIM. Besides a ridiculous amount of minutes spent in the penalty box, Kesler was destroying people while scoring at the same time, and he even won the Selke trophy the very next season after putting up a seventy-three point season.
By the time that Kesler came to the Anaheim Ducks, he started to look like he might have been over the hill in terms of his career, but three solid seasons of forty-seven, fifty-three, and fifty-eight points all changed that idea. But, by the time that 2017-2018 rolled around, Kesler was constantly struggling with injuries, and over the past two seasons, Kesler has played in only 104 games out of 164, and he only managed to put up twenty-two points. And in only 104 games, he still finished with ninety penalty minutes.
Kesler’s Very Uncertain Future
To say that Ryan Kesler is over the hill now is to state the obvious, and it’s a shame. For such an impressive resume, one of the best defensive forward in the league for the past thirteen seasons has now hit rock bottom. Worst of all, Kesler’s hip surgery might leave him worse off than he was starting to become before all the injuries. The fact that the surgery will improve his pain is the news that all Ducks fans wanted to hear, but the news that he might never come back is the news that might make Ducks fans appreciate that he’ll take the season off.
Besides from his horrible regression and his possibility of not returning, Ryan Kesler is and has been a great center, and no one can debate that it’s sad what he’s going through. Always a “King Killer”, Kesler’s impact with the Ducks will always be remembered through his first three seasons with the Ducks, but now his absence leaves room for a new defenseman to shine. It’s a good time to try different AHL prospects if Kesler never returns to the ice.
Patrick Eaves’ Inability to Play
When Patrick Eaves first arrived in Anaheim via a deadline trade for a second-round draft pick, there was a bit of skepticism. Playing most of his career in Detroit, he battled injuries for three of the five years he spent there. He put up over twenty points six times throughout his career before he came to Anaheim, and he almost did it again after that February trade. Fourteen points in twenty games, along with a beard that could make anyone envious made him into a fan favorite for the 2016-2017 season. He was also a big reason for the Ducks sweeping the Calgary Flames in Round One of the NHL Playoffs, but he ended up sitting out the rest of the playoffs after a second-round injury.
After a third-round loss, Eaves signed for another three seasons thanks to his amazing contributions in 2017. However, after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in October of 2017, he never truly came back. Fortunately, it was a misdiagnosis, and he was eventually diagnosed with post-viral syndrome. Unfortunately, however, he’s only played nine games out of the 164 games played over the last two seasons. Unsurprisingly, he also only put up one point during the past two seasons. He’s been riddled by injuries and illnesses, and although he’s gained a big following from the Ducks fanbase, his time here has been bleak.
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Another Uncertain Future
As Bob Murray had mentioned during the announcement, the disease that Patrick Eaves now has keeps resurfacing to bother him, which isn’t a very good sign for the future. All fans can hope for the best and a speedy recovery, but battling an illness is much different from battling injuries. In the case of Eaves, it might be better for his health if he simply chose to retire instead of trying to make a comeback. Everyone involved would understand, seeing as he can’t seem to beat that post-viral syndrome. Better cautious here than to risk an even more serious injury that would hamper the progress he’s seen in recovering from his illness.
With his retirement, the Anaheim Ducks could finally move on to trying out more defensive prospects, and Patrick Eaves could live a peaceful life with his family instead of constantly being on and off the ice. As horrible as the situation is, players are humans, and it’s better to quit while they’re ahead.
In closing, Patrick Eaves and Ryan Kesler have both been hampered with injuries throughout their careers, and although they’re loved, the opportunities that their departures bring outweigh the possibilities of what they could do if they did return. For Patrick Eaves, the safe choice would be to retire so he can spend time battling his illness while being with his family, and for Kesler, the safe choice would be to retire to avoid the hip pains that have brought down his career. If they could give way to two other young defensemen looking for the chance to play in the NHL, the Ducks might just improve more than people would give them credit for.
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