Ducks get their man — Kesler traded to Anaheim

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Ryan Kesler has been traded to Anaheim. The 29-year-old former Selke Trophy winner will go from the Vancouver Canucks to the Ducks, in return for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa, and Anaheim’s first-round pick (24th overall) in today’s draft.

The teams will also swap third-round picks, with Vancouver getting the 85th overall pick this year and Anaheim receiving Vancouver’s third-rounder next year.

Kesler had 25 goals and 18 assists in 2013-14. His best scoring season came in 2010-11, when he had 41 goals. His contract is attractive, with a cap hit of $5 million for two more years, before he can become an unrestricted free agent. If there’s a concern for the Ducks, it’s his lengthy injury log. But with Ryan Getzlaf as 1C and Kesler as 2C, Anaheim can now match the Los Angeles Kings down the middle. The move also leaves the Chicago Blackhawks still searching for a 2C.

For Vancouver, the return for Kesler is perhaps not what the team’s fans had hoped for. Bonino, 26, is younger and scored 22 times last season. He also has a good contract, with three years remaining at a cap hit of $1.9 million. But his overall body of work does not compare with Kesler’s. In 189 NHL games, Bonino has 33 goals and 49 assists. He hasn’t been a workhorse like Kesler, and he hasn’t played against the opponent’s top players like Kesler has.

Sbisa, meanwhile, played 30 games for the Ducks last season, scoring once with five assists. The 24-year-old missed time with both an ankle injury and hand injury. His cap hit is $2.175 million in 2014-15, before he can become a restricted free agent next summer.

In defense of Canucks general manager Jim Benning, he had limited teams with which to deal. Kesler has a no-trade clause and wanted to go to a Stanley Cup contender, with Anaheim and Chicago reportedly the top two potential destinations. And the Blackhawks were always going to be loathe to give up either Brandon Saad or Teuvo Teravainen.

“This trade reinforces our goal to add youth, support our core players and develop draft picks who will contribute to the future success of our team,” said Benning in a release. “Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa are talented players who immediately bring youth and skill to our roster. An additional first- and third-round pick gives us the opportunity to add two strong players to our system.”

Similarly, Vancouver’s president of hockey ops, Trevor Linden, had this to say in May: “When I see playoff teams that are successful, I see teams that have some depth, teams that can roll four lines out. I like the people we have in [our] core positions, but they need support from the bottom. There’s a gap between the core players and what’s coming from below them. There hasn’t been a real push from the bottom and that’s created issues.”

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.