Earlier this month, Anaheim appeared to be in thick of the Ryan Kesler sweepstakes, trading away Dustin Penner and Viktor Fasth at the deadline in what appeared to be cap-clearing moves.
The Kesler deal never came to fruition, though — he remained in Vancouver — and now, nearly a month later, Ducks players are still wondering what could’ve been.
“You think about it for sure because you hear the rumors and you hear people talking about it,” Andrew Cogliano said, per the O.C. Register (paywall). “I think you envision a little bit of a scenario if he did come.
“But he didn’t.”
Following the deadline, Ducks GM Bob Murray all but confirmed the club’s interest in Kesler, saying he put both of his first-round picks at the ’14 Draft in play and was “confused” as to why he came away empty-handed.
Anaheim was keen to add depth down the middle behind Ryan Getzlaf. Nick Bonino, Mathieu Perreault, Saku Koivu and Rickard Rakell have all played center and done so effectively, but none possess the skill, speed and two-way abilities of Kesler, a former 40-goal scorer and Selke Trophy winner.
The Ducks were in Vancouver on Saturday and trounced Kesler and the Canucks 5-1, which led to the discussions of what could’ve been. While Anaheim is looking forward — unlike Vancouver, who is all but done for playoff contention — the eldest Duck still acknowledged the opportunity missed was a big one.
“When you get those kinds of rumors and the opportunities that a guy like Kesler is available, you get pretty excited,” Teemu Selanne said. “Obviously this is the year.
“You can’t think tomorrow or next year. You’ve got to live by this time right now and this momentum. Win right now.”