Why Ryan Kesler’s New Contract Is a Massive Risk for the Anaheim Ducks

July 15th, 2015 by Jonathan Willis Leave a reply »

On Wednesday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that they had signed centre Ryan Kelser to a six-year contract extension. As per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed, but minutes later, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register had the details:

Kesler had one year left on his current contract and would have been a free agent next summer, which means his new deal will take effect beginning in the 2016-17 NHL season. Kesler turns 31 in August, so he’ll play his first game on his new contract at age 32 and complete it at 37.

It’s a massive risk for the Ducks, and it’s reminiscent of the old days in the NHL, when players didn’t hit free agency until age 31. As a result, many players hit the jackpot contract-wise just as the least effective years of their respective playing careers.

Kesler looks set to follow in that pattern. His scoring is already eroding; his three worst seasons in terms of points per hour at five-on-five since breaking into the league full time in 2005-06 have all happened in the last four years. The lone exception, 2012-13, saw Kesler play just 17 games.

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