Ryan Kesler’s big deal: 5 salary cap comparables

The role of villain is not something every athlete is comfortable playing; Ryan Kesler is not one of the those athletes, and he embraces the ability to get under the skin of almost everyone he suits up against.

The Anaheim Ducks have three excellent 30-year-old forwards, and now all three are locked up for at least the next six seasons. Albeit at a significant price.

Eleven and a half months away from unrestricted free agency, Ryan Kesler inked a massive extension with the Ducks on Wednesday, a six-year, $41.25-million pact that includes trade protection and a $6.875-million average annual value.

It’s kind of a big deal.

And it’s one that should earn thank-you bouquets from Eric Staal, Anze Kopitar and Steven Stamkos — all centres entering their own walk seasons, all of them younger, and all more coveted than Kesler.

“This isn’t my last contract. I want another one after this,” Kesler told the Ducks website Wednesday.

“I’m sitting here saying I won’t be done. My family supports that, and they know. When that time comes, I’ll be ready to retire, but right now I’m fully confident I can play out this contract and get another one after.”

Kesler is second-line centre who elevates his performance when his team is most in need (51 points in 73 playoff games). He also possesses a very particular set of skills. He can be the agitator, the shutdown guy, and he is a safe bet to get you 20 goals a season (41 if the year is 2010-11). But he is a second-line centre who plays a taxing brand of hockey, and will remain such behind No. 1 pivot Ryan Getzlaf.

So what are the long-range salary cap comparables for Kesler’s big extension, signed off on by 2014 GM of the Year Bob Murray?

Six active centres are working on multi-year, big-money deals they signed after their 30th birthday.

None of the others signed for the term Murray committed to Kesler, whose cap hit may have been partially justified because it’s still $1.375 million lower than Getzlaf’s $8.25 million AAV. (Granted, we’re reaching a bit here.)

Ironically, the closest comparable to the Kesler deal may belong to former Vancouver teammate Henrik Sedin.

Ryan Kesler cap hit comparables

Pavel Datsyuk, 3 years, $7.5 million cap hit, age 38 at end of deal

Jason Spezza, 4 years, $7.5 million cap hit, age 36 at end of deal

Henrik Sedin, 4 years, $7 million cap hit, age 37 at end of deal

Ryan Kesler, 6 years, $6.875 million cap hit, age 37 at end of deal

Joe Thornton, 3 years, $6.75 million cap hit, age 38 at end of deal

Patrik Elias, 3 years, $5 million cap hit, age 40 at end of deal

Bonus comparable: The San Jose Sharks extended centre Joe Pavelski when he was 29 for five years at $6 million per. That deal ends when he’s 34.

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