By Jameson Bradley
The 2015-2016 season got off to a slow start not only for the Anaheim Ducks, but also for every superstar on the team. Having only played one full season with the Ducks prior to this one, Kesler still had much to show to those who judged his move to Anaheim. He had become known in Anaheim as “The Kingslayer” after his play against the Los Angeles Kings (and the hit show Game of Thrones) or “KesBoss” to most of the fans.
It looked like Kesler was going to have a very difficult second season. He not only struggled to score, but seemingly struggled to do anything offensive in the first couple of games. Kesler seemed to have everything stripped from him to start the season. So he did what great players do to get back on track. He took things one step at a time. He focused on the thing that he was great at. Face-offs. At the end of the season Kesler came with his highest F/O win percentage of his career at 58.5%. He went to the circle 1675 times. There are only 8 players that went to the circle more than him and none of them have a higher win percentage than him. In fact the only player to have a higher win percentage than him is Jonathan Toews, who went to the circle only 1573 times and had a percentage of 58.6%. He became the go to player for face-off wins, which helps when you are in the offensive zone on a power play, or only have seconds left on the clock for the game tying goal.
With that section of his game down, everything else just seemed to click. The goals started coming, and more so the assists. The line of Kesler, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg became the most consistent line the Ducks had to offer. They were also the shut down line. When looking at Kesler’s numbers at the end of the season it’s incredible to think that he was still able to win all those face-offs, score all those goals, and have that much of an impact on the ice when he was mostly paired up with the other teams superstars. There were only a couple times when teams with big names overpower the Ducks, but most times those games were kept to within one goal. That was all because of Kesler and his line.
He would end the season with 79 games played, 21 G and 32 A. Those numbers are pretty close to his first season in Anaheim where he played two more games and recorded 20 G and 27 A. Seems like pretty good numbers for someone who got off to such a slow start. Between his improved play, shutting down the other teams, and stepping up his game near the end of the season Kesler became the player we all hoped he would be. He would go on to score four goals in seven playoff games. Kesler has lived up to his name, and has even more going for him next season.
With all things considered I would give Kesler an A- for the season. I also think he would be great to consider for captaincy next season. My personal opinion is that the Ducks should do what the Sharks did during the 2014-2015 season. They should alternate between a couple names and see who wears the badge best. Getzlaf has done a great job, but things need to keep changing in Anaheim.
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