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Kesler makes Ducks better, but are they good enough?

Jun 27, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT

Ryan Kesler AP

Ryan Kesler wants to win a Stanley Cup. And you can hardly blame him. Turning 30 this summer, the former Selke Trophy recipient has suffered some painful defeats in his career. He lost the 2010 Olympic gold medal-game, and he lost twice with a chance to win the Cup in 2011.

Which is why he agreed to be traded from Vancouver to Anaheim, a deal that’s being seen as a big win for Ducks general manager Bob Murray, who adds one of the premier two-way centers in the NHL to play behind Hart Trophy finalist Ryan Getzlaf.

Having a pair of top centers is how teams win the Cup. The Kings have Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. The Bruins have Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. The Blackhawks have Jonathan Toews and, well, that’s why everyone’s wondering what the ‘Hawks will do with their vacant 2C spot. Jason Spezza? Paul Stastny? Pressure’s on, Stan Bowman.

Of course, there’s more to winning the Cup than having two top centers, and it’s more than fair to wonder if the Ducks — a team that’s won just a single postseason series in the last five years — really have what it takes.

Let’s start with the blue line, which even Murray admits is lacking that elite defenseman that almost always plays for the Cup winner.

“You watch the Kings, for example, and you watch how Drew Doughty has emerged as a superstar,” Murray said recently. “Do we have a defenseman who can be that way? When we won the Stanley Cup, we had [Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger]. That’s in the back of my mind all the time. Where is that guy, can you find that guy, and can you afford that guy?”

Maybe they already have that guy in 22-year-old Cam Fowler. But that’s a big maybe. Fowler’s good, but can he be Doughty good? Can he be Duncan Keith good? Zdeno Chara? Nicklas Lidstrom? Again, these are the guys that win Cups. They might even be the most important part of a championship team. You could make that argument.

Then there’s the Ducks’ goaltending situation. Jonas Hiller won’t be back, leaving the starter’s job to either John Gibson or Frederik Andersen. To be sure, goaltending could in fact turn out to be a real strength for Anaheim. But that’s not an experienced duo. It’s another big question mark. (Murray reportedly has no interest in Ryan Miller.)

Kesler gets the Ducks closer to winning it all. He gets himself closer. How close, exactly, we shall see.

  1. matt14gg - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Kesler looks like Snoopy

    • kaptaanamerica - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      Kesler makes the Ducks better, but he also just made the Canucks better. Nux get a solid center to replace Kesler, and a Dman that allows the Nux to dump Garrison’s salary (who i personally would have kept) so they can add some other parts. they use the third from the Ducks to get Dorsett for depth on the fourth line.

      so Kesler nets a 2014 first rounder, 2nd line center (still getting better), a dman prospect with upside (former 1st rounder), and a solid fourth liner. if the 1st pans out then the haul for Kesler won’t appear to be as light as some people feel.

      one other thing, all the PHT arm chair GMs were going on about how the Canucks overvalue their own players but then make a deal, and the same armchair GMs go on about how the Canucks got too little back.. lols

  2. rsmaggiemae - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    I would love to own Microsoft too but it is not going to happen
    I realize they alll want to win a cup, but who is left to play on the other teams if everyone leaves to go to better teams???
    Sometimes the grass is not greener on the other side

    You make enough money so just go have a stanly cup ring made and pretend that you won it. in 30 years who is going to remember anyway unless you are a superstar which I dont think Kesler is ……

    • stakex - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:37 PM

      That’s perhaps one of the most cynical things I’ve ever ready….

    • chanceoffleury - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      Max Talbot scored both game 7 goals for the Pens in 09. I will remember that forever. No matter how irrelevant and washed up he becomes he’ll always have that game and I think thats what Pens fans remember most about his tenure in Pittsburgh.

      The Blackhawks going without a loss as long as they did, and then going from being down with the Bruins ready to force a game 7 to Stanley Cup Champs in a matter of time shorter than it takes to run and grab a beer from the fridge? It’s hard to believe a storyline like that unless you watched it. And I’m sure it’s impossible to forget if you played it.

      It’s not about the ring, my friend. The ring is nothing more than as symbol of all the memories and flashbacks that flood your thoughts when you look at it. As cheesy as it sounds: you can buy the ring, but you can’t buy the storyline that every ring tells.

  3. lordfletcher - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    never seen a photo of Kesler on his feet before.

  4. roblo76 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    Canucks “good enough?” Good enough for what? They’re mediocre.

  5. 19to77 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    If Gibson and Andersen continue to show the ability they did this season, the Ducks will have a very solid goaltending duo and easily the best bargain in the League. If one or both recede, they’ll have a fairly significant problem on their hands, though – their defense isn’t going to be much better next year than last.

  6. comeonnowguys - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    I am happy he didn’t go to a Central team. That division is going to be tough enough and will easily take both WC spots. Giving LA a challenge before they hit the WCF is nice.

    • puckoff70 - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      Please, it isn’t like Kestler is some amazing player. He’s alright and has lots of maybes surrounding him.

      • comeonnowguys - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM

        I never said he could carry a team. However, he likely will fill the 2C role very nicely, a role several already-good Central teams need.

  7. greej1938l - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Ha ha ha. He does look like snoopy doesn’t he

  8. scout202sport - Jun 28, 2014 at 7:11 AM

    Kesler is good but IMO not a player that can turn a team into a contender. I’m sure there are plenty of people that think Anaheim is a contender but as the article points out, one playoff series win in the last 5 years……….that’s not a contender. I think the Ducks would of been better off with Bonino. He had his best year so far which ended up getting him flushed to Vancouver. I’m sure Bonino is absolutely pissed off about this trade. I know I would be. It will be interesting to see who the starting goalie is for Anaheim is next season. Gibson was good in the playoffs but in game 7 the Kings lit him up like a christmas tree. I know it’s just one game but that kind of a beating with so much at stake has to have an impact on a young goalie. Ducks are a good team, I’m not saying they aren’t. Just seems like this Kesler trade is getting a whole bunch of praise behind it and I don’t think it’s going to do much at all.

    • kc114 - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      The Ducks aren’t a strong contender? Really? The Ducks have been a top 2 seed each of the past 2 seasons. Do you really measure a team’s ability over a stretch of a few games like a best of 7 series? That’s like buying a stock based on a week’s performance.

      • paulerhythm - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:00 PM

        I agree the Ducks are contenders. However, the real question is, are they Stanley Cup champions? That is what we’re all going to find out.

  9. iwanttoholdyourbigknockers - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    If you ask me, Ducks gave up too much to get Kesler. Bonino is a great grinder with speed, Sbisa, when he wasnt hurt, played well, 1st and 3rd round picks too? Jesus.

    Hiller – well who didnt see that coming? He isnt the caliber of goalie many think he is. But the Ducks will need a few to replace the likes of a Selanne, Koivu, Bonino and Spisa. And without a solid goalie in the back, last years leading scoring team might have its issues keeping the puck out of the net without a bonified starting goalie and with ample support at the blue line. Hopefully Sheldon Souray will be back and in form.

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