Ryan Kesler was traded to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday in the first blockbuster move of the summer. One of the determining factors in his desire to leave the Vancouver Canucks was that he believes they’re not close to contending for a Stanley Cup championship.
“Last year, that season was tough on all players that played for the Canucks,” Kesler said in a media conference call Friday afternoon, per Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. “… That season was painful, to be honest.
“(The) fact they’re in a rebuild and are years away from being a contender, it was time for me to move on.”
Kesler has spent his entire nine-year NHL career in Vancouver. He won the 2011 Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward and helped lead the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final that same season.
Vancouver’s seven-game loss to the Boston Bruins in that Cup Final turned out to be a turning point in the franchise’s history. It resulted in a string of poor roster moves, and the Canucks ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs in each of the next two seasons before missing the postseason in 2013-14.
Despite re-signing top-line forwards Henrik and Daniel Sedin to long-term contract extensions, there is little chance that Vancouver will make the playoffs next season. The team’s goaltending and blue-line talent are subpar, and rookie bench boss Willie Desjardins has no previous head-coaching experience at the NHL level. The Canucks’ division, which includes the Ducks, San Jose Sharks and reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, arguably is the most competitive in the league.
Kesler has a tremendous opportunity to win a Stanley Cup in Anaheim, where he joins the team that finished with the Western Conference’s best record last season.
“I want to win a championship and I want to win it now,” Kesler said.