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Kesler Trade Will Change the Face of NHL Pacific Division

Ryan Kesler was traded on Friday from the Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks. The highly sought after center could help shift the balance of power in one of the top divisions in hockey and certainly in the best conference in the NHL.

The trade was a blockbuster that came hours prior to the NHL draft. With Kesler in a Ducks uniform, could they have beaten the Kings in the playoffs this past season and gone on to their own Stanley Cup title?

That question cannot be answered and is a moot point, but how much Kesler changes the face of the Ducks and the Pacific division is not a moot point going forward.

Kesler has had durability issues in his career and asked the Canucks to trade him as they are in the midst of remaking a team that not too long ago was in the playoffs on a regular basis.

However, when Kesler is healthy he is one of hockey’s best two-way centers. The former winner of the Frank Selke Trophy is a player opponents have a hard time against who is blessed with great skills on offense that helped him score 148 points between the 2009 and 2011 seasons.

Kesler will be the No. 2 center for the Ducks behind Ryan Getzlaf a finalist for the Hart Trophy. His presence in the lineup gives Anaheim the one two punch the Ducks have needed to get through the tough Western Conference postseason schedule of one tough team after another.

Immediately following the trade came condemnation of Internet’s social media for what Vancouver realized in their trade of Kesler.

The team obtained Nick Bonino, the emerging center on the Ducks who likely will work well behind the Canucks’ Henrik Sedin. Bonino had his breakout year this past season scoring 22 goals, with another four during the playoffs.

Luca Sbisa a defenseman for Anaheim was traded as well. The Ducks also parted with their 24th pick in the draft on Friday night and the Canucks chose Jared McCann a center from Sault Ste. Marie.

The teams also swapped their two third round picks. Defenseman Sbisa did not develop in the way the Ducks had hoped when he was dealt for in a draft day trade with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009 for Chris Pronger.

Some believe Vancouver might have been able to get more from a player of the caliber of Kesler. However, it is tough to say as Kesler was holding all the cards due to the no-trade clause in his contract. Because of that, the Canucks really had two choices to send Kesler to the Anaheim or Chicago and the Canucks chose Anaheim.

The Ducks gave up a great deal in the trade, but managed to maintain their group of youngsters such as Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly and Sami Vatanen.

They also were able to get in Kesler a 29 year old in his prime with two years remaining on his contract that only hits the cap annually for $5 million.

The Kesler deal had been much anticipated and now causes the teams looking for talented help down the middle to have much less to choose from.

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