At this point of his career, there aren't a lot of unknowns with Kesler. He’s posted four consecutive 20-goal campaigns and topped the 50-point plateau in consecutive years. Kesler moves the needle in the PIM, shots and hits columns, and he is also willing to block shots. His fantasy ceiling is capped because of his shut-down role, but he also logged 2:51 of power-play time per game last year and notched 20 points -- eight goals -- with the man advantage. Additionally, he logged a hefty 21:18 of ice time per game, which helps mitigate starting 66.6 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the defensive zone. Kesler's reliability and cross-category production shouldn't be undervalued on draft day.
Two seasons into his tenure with the Ducks, Kesler has exemplified consistency across multiple categories as one of the most solid second-line centers in the Western Conference. The former Canuck has racked up 20-plus goals, five power-play and four game-winning goals, a single shorty, 75-plus PIM, 168 hits and an average ice time of 19:30 in each campaign, all while missing just two out of a possible 162 regular-season contests. The one knock against Kesler in 2015-16 was the reduced rubber he threw on net, as his 164 shots on goal marked the first time he’s failed to crack the 200-SOG mark in a full season since 2008-09. It could just be a byproduct of Kesler taking on an increased defensive role while big dogs Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf do the heavy offensive lifting, but owners would undoubtedly like to see the former 40-goal scorer shoot more heading into 2016-17. You can bump Kesler up on your cheat sheets if your league counts blocked shots (he had 92 last year, a career high), but it’s also worth mentioning that his 2:14 of average power-play time was the lowest of his 12-year career.
Kesler was a seamless fit in his first season with the Ducks, hitting the 20-goal mark, notching 47 points, and finishing 51st in the NHL with 75 PIM. The 30-year-old gave the Ducks a massive upgrade at their second-line center spot, leading the team with 205 shots on goal and tallying five power-play goals on the top man-advantage unit. Signed in July to a six-year contract extension, it’s clear the Ducks believe in Kesler as their No. 2 pivot behind superstar Ryan Getzlaf. The former Canuck has reached 20 goals in each of his last seven full seasons and hasn’t posted under 50 PIM in a full campaign since 2006-07. Kesler might not deliver whopping point totals, but it's tough to dismiss a consistent 20-to-25-goal, 50-point guy who plays with his heart on his sleeve. Entering the 2015-16 season, Kesler makes for a safe and reliable fantasy option on a dangerous Anaheim team that has added Carl Hagelin, Shawn Horcoff, Chris Stewart, and Kevin Bieksa. Lining up alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the power play, expect Kesler to build off his first year in Anaheim and feed off the confidence the team has placed in him.
Kesler was traded to the Ducks in June for two players and a first-round draft pick. While his point totals and plus-minus rating has been down the last three years, Kesler brings with him veteran experience and a tenacious approach. And he will be a key part of Anaheim’s game plan come next season. Twenty-five goals and 65 points are within reach if he can remain healthy.
Injuries plagued Kesler once again in 2012-13, limiting the center to just 17 games and a mere four goals. He was first sidelined until mid-February after having offseason shoulder surgery, but his troubles didn't end there. After barely playing two weeks, Kesler broke his foot and it didn't heal until almost the end of the season. He made his return to the lineup in April and went on to play for the Canucks in the postseason before the team was swept out of the first round by the Sharks. For the first time in three years, the 6-2 center will start training camp healthy and will look to return to the success he achieved in 2010-11 when he scored 73 points and finished plus-24. Prospective fantasy owners are hoping he can mirror these numbers in 2013-14, but Kesler remains a risky draft choice due to his injury history. When healthy, the 28-year-old has all-star upside, making him a intriguing piece for owners to gamble on come draft day.
For the second straight season, Kesler will enter training camp on the shelf. Last year, a hip injury sidelined Kesler for the first two weeks of the season. This time around, he’s scheduled to be out until possibly December after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. Kesler never quite seemed right last season and his point total dropped from 73 (41 G, 32 A) to 49 (22 G, 27 A) as a result. He wants to be at full strength upon his return this time around to avoid another down year of production. Kesler should be discounted on draft day due to the time he’s expected to miss at the start of the season, but he’ll be a productive enough option to warrant being stashed away for the first month or two, especially in leagues with DL spots.
Kesler took the step to superstar status during the 2010-11 season, finishing fourth in the league with 41 goals while winning his first Selke Trophy. Unfortunately the gritty center will have to delay cementing himself as a bonafide fantasy stud after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. He went under the knife in early August with a timetable of 10-to-12 weeks expected for recovery. If the full 12 weeks is needed, Kesler would be back on the ice before the end of October, but he’d likely need additional time to shake off any rust he might have from missing camp. Kesler’s one of the toughest cats in the league, so we’re betting on a full recovery, though you should be prepared to manage your roster without him for the first few weeks of the season if you decide to invest in him on draft day.
The Olympic hero brought his game to new heights during the 2009-10 season. In 82 games, Kesler set career-highs in assists (50) and penalty minutes (104) while lighting the lamp 25 times. The gritty two-way forward provides the stupendous defensive play and solid skills in the face-off circle, ensuring him of ample ice time each night. The Canucks didn’t make any tweaks to their top-three lines this offseason, so look for Kesler to play a key role in the top six again this season.
Kesler was one of the bigger surprises on the Canucks' roster last season. After showing promise as a third-line center the previous year, Kesler's production shot through the roof after a mid-season promotion to second-line right winger alongside Mats Sundin and Pavol Demitra. In the final 32 games of the season with the veteran duo, Kesler exploded for 15 goals and 17 assists. The uncertainty of Sundin's return hurts Kesler's outlook a bit, but he's still a good enough two-way player that plenty of value will remain, especially now that he qualifies at right wing in most leagues.
One of the few Canuck youngsters who exceeded expectations last season was Kesler. In his fourth campaign with the Canucks, Kesler notched career best marks in goals (21) and assists (16). He was the most improved player on the roster, upping his scoring totals by 21 points. The former first-round pick is finally living up to his promise. Kesler most likely will center the third line for Vancouver, but he should see more power-play time with the departures of Brendan Morrison and Marcus Naslund.
Kesler once again enters the season with high expectations and should find time on the second scoring line, centering Markus Naslund. Should he replace Brendan Morrison as Nazzy's setup man, his value would increase exponentially and would warrant a long look in deeper leagues. Remember that he is a former first round draft pick and could be a surprise with increased playing time.
The expectations are high for Kesler after the Canucks were forced to match an offer sheet extended to the former first round draft pick. The 6'5" center has the ability to be a solid contributor to the team and should improve on the 10 goals and 13 assists he had during his first full season in 2005-06.
Kesler has great skating ability and defensive instincts. Found a bit of a scoring touch in 2004-05 playing in the AHL as he lit the lamp 30 times playing for Manitoba. Will have experience some growing pains, but has all the earmarkings of being a solid two-way player in the NHL, if not in 2005-06, then in 2006-07.