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He may look like a drowned rat when wet, but this edgy forward is one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL right now. Meet Ryan Kesler, Team U-S-A

Name: Ryan Kesler

Birth Date: August 31, 1984

Birthplace: Livonia, MI, USA

Nickname: The very unoriginal 'Kes'

Kesler was originally drafted by the Brampton Battalion of the OHL, but instead of moving to Ontario, he chose to stay home and play in the US National Team Development Program. He then accepted a scholarship to play for Ohio State University where he played with RJ Umberger. Ryan Kesler was drafted 23rd overall in the 1st round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks and has been with them ever since.

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In 2008-2009, Kes had 26 goals and 33 assists, but he was also a fantastic two-way forward and for that he was named as a finalist for the Franke Selke Trophy. At the end of the season he won the Canucks Cyclone Taylor Award for the MVP of the season. In the 2009-10 season so far, he has had 13 goals and 31 assists setting up Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson. It can be argued that if winger Demitra hadn't been injured all season, Kesler's numbers could be a lot higher.

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oh the Team USA glamour shots...

Kes has represented Team USA a number of times, including the WJC in 2002-03 and 2003-04 (where they won gold), the IIHF World U18 Hockey Championships (where they won gold as well) and the World Championships in 2005-06. This will be his first Olympic appearance as he failed to make the cut for the 2006 squad.

Before 2008, Kesler wasn't even on the Olympic radar, it's only after he was nominated for the Selke Trophy that people started to take note of this two-way forward. Not only does Kes bring a strong defensive game, he can also dish out the offense. He's a 6'2", 202 lbs center who has got skills, attitude and a ton of heart. He'll be great as a checking center shutting down the opposition with his responsible play. He will also bring his grittiness to agitate and get in on the forecheck as well as his expertise on the penalty kill.

“Just to get to the finals would be awesome. Beating Canada would make it extra special, but just to make it would be good.

“I like the looks of our team. It’s a good mixture of veterans and young guys, so I think we should be able to contend for a medal.” -Canucks.com

 

Vancity CanuckVancity Canuck writes about the Vancouver Canucks at Benched Whale and the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Hockey Bay Blog in addition to her work on Bloguin's Olympic Hockey Blog.

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