ANAHEIM – Ryan Kesler will make his season debut for the Ducks on Wednesday night as he’ll dress against the Vegas Golden Knights six months after undergoing major hip surgery.
Kesler missed the first 37 games while going through a lengthy rehabilitation progress. One clear sign that he would play was his appearance on a line with Andrew Cogliano and Chris Wagner during the Ducks’ morning skate at Honda Center. Afterward, the center confirmed that he was playing.
“I’ve been feeling good for the last couple of weeks,” Kesler said. “We’ll see how I feel out there tonight.”
Kesler joined the Ducks on their six-game road trip before Christmas and began to take part in regular practices over the course of their journey as he got himself up to speed. The Ducks are spreading out their forward lineup, with Adam Henrique centering Kevin Roy and Jakob Silfverberg.
“I wanted to string together a good couple of weeks of practice with the guys and have minimal hiccups,” Kesler said. “The work’s not done for me yet. I definitely feel like I’m ready to play.”
Silfverberg said he knew Kesler was close to returning once he took the road trip with them. Kesler was the runner-up to Boston’s Patrice Bergeron for the Selke Trophy last season as the NHL’s top defensive forward.
“He’s one of those who’s good at everything he does,” Silfverberg said. “He’s strong on faceoffs. He’s really strong defensively. Really strong offensively as well, so obviously it’s a key player that’s been playing a lot of minutes throughout his couple of seasons with us.
“It’s really nice to see him back and hopefully he’ll get a goal or two tonight.”
Even though his last game played was Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against Nashville, Kesler is getting back into action without a short conditioning assignment in the American Hockey League. The center figures that at some point he had to make the leap from practicing to…