The 2017-18 NHL season is one to forget for Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler. The 33 year old pivot managed just eight goals and 14 points in 44 games with the Ducks last season and was hampered by a suspected hip injury all season long. Kesler underwent surgery to repair the issue and is now rehabbing, but there’s serious discussion around the Ducks organization that he may never be able to return to the ice.
Just check out this quote from Ducks general manager Bob Murray:
GMBM on Kesler:“I think Kes has actually come out and said some things to a few people that if he feels as bad as he did this year, that he doesn’t know if he can play any more. Let’s face it, he wasn’t right this year and he tried to gut his way out of it. It was really hard.”
This flies in the face of a report from Sportsnet analyst and NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, who just yesterday reported that Kesler was NOT considering retirement.
Check out this tidbit from Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet:
We probably won’t know the truth until training camp, but there is a chance Ryan Kesler does not play in 2018–19. Anaheim’s centre gutted through 48 regular-season and playoff games, his discomfort and pain obvious to teammates and opponents alike. From what I understand, he will not be having surgery (that’s been done). Instead, he’s undergoing some aggressive rehab and treatment in an effort to improve the hip area. The team and agent are not commenting, but word is he is not interested in retiring, wants to play and is doing everything he can to get there. But it might be a situation where he sits out and tries to come back in September 2019.
For what it’s worth, Kesler managed 22 goals and 58 points in his last full season, so it’s clear that when healthy he still has the skills to contribute. Whether or not he can get himself into shape enough for the opening of Ducks training camp later this summer however remains to be seen. It’s no secret that Kesler plays a rough and tumble game and it may just be that his 900+ career NHL games are beginning to catch up with him.
The 33 year old Kesler has four years remaining on a six year, $41+ million deal that he signed with the Ducks in July of 2015. If he were to spend the entire 2017-18 season and beyond on the injured reserve, the Ducks will receive salary cap relief in the full amount of Kesler’s $6.875 million salary.