ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks acquired center Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th overall pick in Friday’s draft.
The 29-year-old Kesler is a standout two-way center who has spent his entire 10-season career in Vancouver, compiling six 20-goal seasons and 392 points while playing an agitating physical style. The two-time U.S. Olympian won the Selke Trophy in 2011 as the NHL’s best defensive forward.
The Pacific Division champion Ducks finally completed their long pursuit of an elite NHL center to lead their second line behind captain Ryan Getzlaf. Kesler also is an elite faceoff winner, an area where the Ducks struggled at times during the postseason.
Anaheim even kept the 10th overall pick in the draft, a product of their trade last year sending forward Bobby Ryan to Ottawa. The Ducks did send a third-round selection — No. 85 — to the Canucks, who flipped that pick to the New York Rangers for rugged forward Derek Dorsett.
Kesler has struggled with injuries for the past three seasons, including a torn shoulder labrum, an injured wrist and a broken foot. He still appeared in 77 games for the Canucks last season, scoring 25 goals.
Kesler has two years and $10 million left on his contract.
Vancouver is now under new management and eager for a fresh start after missing the playoffs this spring for the first time since 2008.
Anaheim also tried to land Kesler at the trade deadline last season but couldn’t reach a deal with the Canucks. The Ducks finished atop the Western Conference standings in the regular season and beat Dallas in the first round of the playoffs before losing a seven-game, second-round series to eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles.
Bonino developed into a steady center for the Ducks after breaking into the NHL during the 2009-10 season. The former sixth-round draft pick by San Jose had 22 goals and 27 assists in 77 games last season for the Ducks before scoring eight points in 13 playoff games.
But the Ducks are tweaking their already strong roster with an eye toward playoff success, and Kesler’s tested veteran skills fit perfectly. Kesler scored 19 points in 25 playoff games in 2011 while the Canucks reached Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, losing to Boston.
Sbisa could use a fresh start after falling out of favor with Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau last season, playing in just 30 regular-season games and two postseason contests. The Swiss defenseman struggled with injuries and never reclaimed a significant role in Anaheim’s defensive corps.
The Ducks are hoping to stay on top of the standings while retooling their roster, and general manager Bob Murray has a wealth of young talent to fill the roster spots vacated by Bonino, Sbisa, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Daniel Winnik and goalie Jonas Hiller.
Forwards Rickard Rakell, Devante Smith-Pelly and Emerson Etem all cracked the lineup during the postseason, and Finnish Olympic defenseman Sami Vatanen should get a chance for a regular NHL job. The Ducks’ goalies next season are expected to be Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, who both played in the postseason as rookies.
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