Ducks’ Kesler Out for 2019-20 Season, Likely Beyond

The Anaheim Ducks have announced that forward Ryan Kesler has undergone successful hip surgery. The veteran is unlikely to play for the entirety of the 2019-20 season and the team also made it clear that his future beyond next season is also up in the air, though the door is always open for him to return.

“As we all know, Ryan has been fiercely battling his condition for quite some time,” said Ducks general manager Bob Murray. “I’ve been extremely impressed by his determination to play despite being significantly injured. At this point, Ryan needs to think about his life and family.

The pain he felt was significant and we agree with his decision to have this surgery. While it’s unlikely he will play in 2019-20, we will support any decision he makes about his future playing career. He deserves the utmost respect, which he will receive from the entire Ducks organization as he contemplates his future.”

With three years remaining on Kesler’s contract and the 34-year-old expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season at a minimum, the team will almost certainly opt to place Kesler on the long-term injured reserve at the start of next season, giving them nearly $7 million in cap relief.

While losing Kesler, one of the best defensive forwards in the world during his prime, is less than ideal for the Ducks, the cap relief is very helpful given the team’s lack of cap space remaining heading into next season.

Ducks center Ryan Kesler
Ducks center Ryan Kesler has undergone successful hip surgery and will miss the entirety of the 2019-20 season. His future as a player is up in the air as the team awaits Kesler’s recovery to see if he can eventually return to on-ice action. (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Fortunately for the Ducks, there aren’t any significantly pressing needs for the team to re-sign heading into next season, but they do have to account for the $4.1 million boost goaltender John Gibson is receiving on his contract while also looking to improve after a disastrous season saw them finish with only 80 points, missing the playoffs.

Kesler Aiming for Quality of Life Beyond Hockey

For Kesler, the decision to undergo this surgery was the best option for himself and his family.

At this point in my career, this surgery was the best option for my quality of life,” said Kesler. “The pain I was suffering has been greatly reduced since the procedure, and I’m grateful for that. While my playing future is unknown, I’m in a good place.

I want to thank all the doctors and trainers as part of ‘Team Kesler,’ my teammates, my agent Kurt Overhardt, the Ducks organization, the fans, and most importantly, my family, for their support. I’m extremely appreciative of everyone that has helped me through the process. I look forward to spending more time with my family and doing everyday activities without pain.

As mentioned, Kesler was once one of the most prolific defensive forwards in the NHL and he was no slouch offensively either. Few players in the world were harder to play against than Kesler, something he reminded his opposition of on a shift-by-shift basis.

That hard-nosed style of play and never-say-die attitude eventually caught up to Kesler, though, and this surgery was essential for his quality of life beyond the rink. It’s easy to forget sometimes, but these players have families and lives that they turn to once their playing days are over. Too many players in the past have sacrificed their long-term well being for their short-term career success. Kesler is looking to make amends for that now while he still can.