We continue our series where Canucks Army will profile various players of interest leading up to the new season.
Just like many Canucks, and just like both of his regular linemates, Ryan Kesler has a career year last season. He had career highs in points, assists, power play goals, penalty minutes and shots, and was one goal shy of tying his career high in goals, which he set the previous year. He was also one of the most important players for Team USA during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and was arguably the best skater for the Americans in both games against Team Canada. So where does he go from here?
Kesler, from Livonia, MI, is a product of the US National Team Development program, and an alum of Ohio State University. He has been a product of the Canucks from the very beginning of his pro career, drafted in the 1st round, 23rd overall, in the 2003 entry draft. He played 1.5 seasons with the Manitoba Moose before entering the Canucks roster full-time. He has missed only 2 regular season games in the last three years, and hasn’t missed a regular season game for two complete seasons now.
Counting Stats: 25g-50a-75pts
Quality of Competition: 0.030 (Highest amongst Canucks forwards)
Team Goals Against while on-ice (per 60 minutes): 3.09 (Team high)
Frank J. Selke award finalist: 2009, 2010
Faceoff %: 55.1% (Team high, T-12th in NHL)
Takeways: 83 (2nd in NHL)
Regular linemates: Samuelsson, Raymond
Like both of his teammates, Kesler’s career arc is still on the upswing, but he’s becoming an elite and noticed player in the league. His Selke nominations, his play during the Olympics, and his reputation as an in-your-face, skilled agitator make Ryan Kesler a true pain-in-the-ass to play against. I also believe that he should be the Canucks captain, instead of Roberto Luongo. Kesler is tailor-made to be the Canucks captain. He is responsible at all ends of the ice, he plays in all game situations, he takes hits and punches and slashes and cuts and just keeps playing. He is a fan and media favourite and seems willing to speak on the team’s behalf. He also got a hefty raise and a long-term contract over the summer, where he now makes $30 million for the next 6 years. Quite simply, he is the face of the Canucks for the foreseeable future.
As with all the Canucks, Kesler’s true test will once again come in the playoffs. He played a very long season last year, with the inclusion of the Olympics, it seemed to get the better of him. If he can manage his ice-time a little better, possibly cutting down a little on his penalty-killing time, he will be fresher for a longer run in the playoffs.
Quite frankly, I want Kesler to be the captain, and to marshall this team to a Stanley Cup. He has the ability to put the team on his back, and the Canucks need a general on the ice, who is willing to pour blood, sweat and tears into every shift. They have that in Ryan Kesler. It’s time to put the C on his jersey.