This week's Capped quacks about Ryan Kesler’s return for the Ducks.
Ryan Kesler made his return for the Ducks last night, and looks like he has a little rust to work off, going minus three, with three giveaways, and a showing of less than 50% in the faceoff circle in just under 16 minutes of icetime. That being said, having him back is a massive boost for the depleted Ducks lineup, currently without Corey Perry, Patrick Eaves, and a few others. Kesler immediately brings the depth so necessary for teams to compete in the Western Conference. We have seen the Nashville Predators go on a big winning run since acquiring Kyle Turris, and we could see a similar winning streak from the Ducks with their second best centreman healthy again. It should be expected though that Kesler will need a few games to get back up to speed, so don’t expect a full production right from the get-go; it is going to take a few games, and maybe even a month.
Kesler is owned in only 57% of Yahoo leagues and 63% of Fantrax leagues at the time of writing. I assume if you check it now that it would be much higher. And even in other leagues where he is owned, he may be pried away a little easier due to the injury factor and the wariness of getting back up to speed. Doesn’t hurt to send out an offer, especially since he is past the magical age-30 plateau where players lose all value in keeper leagues.
With a player such as Kesler, we know what we are getting. He should score around a 55-pace, and provides excellent cross-category coverage, with above average numbers in shots, hits, block, penalty minutes, faceoffs, and more. Take a look at Scott Maran’s Geek of the Week feature on Vincent Trocheck from a couple days ago if you want a more accurate sense of the numbers to expect. Trocheck is emerging as a younger Kesler-type player as the second line centre behind a star first liner. The advantage to Kesler over Trocheck is a little more reliability along with a better plus-minus stat.
The Ducks forward group has seen so much line shuffling recently with all of the injuries, that any arrangement has to be taken with a grain of salt for now. However, we have initially seen Kesler lining up on what should be labelled as the team’s third line, alongside Andrew Cogliano and Chris Wagner. Going back to the Turris comparison, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see a bit of an offensive boost from the wingers Cogliano and Wagner just like Turris brought to Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala in Nashville. We won’t see a point-per-game from the whole Anaheim trio, but if you bank on a small bump you should be rewarded. Even in DFS there may be some short-term value to be found in that line before prices adjust.
The current downside to the look of the lineup, is that Kesler is only seeing second-unit powerplay time, and has Cogliano and Wagner on his wings to leech faceoff wins. It didn’t come to pass much in this game, with Wagner only seeing one faceoff, and Cogliano with two. If anything, the bigger threat to Kelser’s faceoff numbers may be the left-handed Cogliano, giving the ability to split with the right-handed Kesler based on matchups and strong sides of the ice. Especially with Kesler returning off of surgery, the last thing to come back is a player’s timing, which is absolutely key to faceoffs. Expect more along the lines of a 600-faceoff-win pace instead of the 1000-faceoff-win pace to which we have become accustomed.
Kesler is in the second year of a six-year deal seeing him paid pretty well what he is worth, at $6.875 million per season. In lots of cap leagues, the team with Kesler coming back may not be ready to take on his salary, expecting him back two weeks from now. For that reason, if you have some space, then he is worth the investment. He may not be a big bargain relative to most other players, however, looking solely at the centre position, if you’re comparing him to others in the same cost range, I would pick Kesler over others such as Jordan Staal, Ryan Johansen, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Duchene, Brandon Dubinsky, and others.
As a small side note, there isn’t much of a better cap league bargain right now in multi-category leagues than Kelser’s linemate Wagner. Wagner is being paid a paltry $637,500, has racked up 167 faceoff wins, 132 hits, and added 13 points on the season to boot. The right winger could give your team a much-needed boost to the grit categories from the bottom third of your roster, while being paid filler level money.
On an unrelated Duck note, but still relevant to all cap-leaguers, keep an eye on the world juniors for the next breakout bargains to help out your cap situation. Pick these players up, stash them, watch their value grow, and then trade them for immediate help. Don’t fall for the ploy of overpaying for these players while the hype is at its peak. If you want to try and get ahead, and haven’t yet,
shame on you go check out the DobberProspects site.
That caps off another Thursday. Thanks for reading! As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean where I post some of my other smaller musings that don’t make it into the articles.
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