At one point this off-season, there were major questions about Ryan Kesler’s health and whether the Anaheim Ducks center would play at all in 2018-19. While Kesler has a ways to go before he is back at 100%, he is certainly trending in the right direction and far from the doomsday speculation. According to The Athletic’s Eric Stephens, Kesler has been cleared for contact and may even be available to the Ducks when the team debuts this season on October 3rd.
Kesler, 34, has been dealing with chronic hip issues for the past two seasons. After undergoing surgery during the 2017 off-season, Kesler began last season on the injured reserve and missed the Ducks’ first 37 games of the season. Yet, even once he returned, Kesler was still plagued by a sore hip and it showed in his play. He registered only 14 points in 44 games, saw a decrease in ice time, and was even forced to sit for a game and leave several others early. Kesler continued to rehab his hip this summer, but both he and the Ducks were unsure what the results would be in camp.
Per Stephens, Kesler’s performance to this point has been far better than expectations. Kesler has been skating throughout camp, but working separately from the rest of the team. That changed yesterday, when Kesler finally took part in line rushes and contact drills. Now the only question is how his body handles this increased workload. If Kesler is able to get back to full strength and work through a healthy level of pain management, then perhaps an opening night appearance is not out of the realm of possibility. However, working slowly and avoiding any further setbacks will be the primary focus of Kesler and the team.