April 8, 2019 | 2:00am ET
TheFourthPeriod.com

KESLER’S PLAYING CAREER IN JEOPARDY

 
header_kesler_1.jpg

Ryan Kesler, forward

 

There’s a legitimate chance veteran forward Ryan Kesler will not be on the Anaheim Ducks’ roster next season, but it won’t be because of a trade or buyout.

Kesler, who turns 35 on Aug. 31, is contemplating career-ending hip replacement surgery and is getting information from surgeons about his options.

“We’re just gathering information now and talking to the best surgeons in the country and probably go see what they say,” Kesler told the Orange County Register on Sunday.

Kesler, who battled hip issues all season, underwent arthroscopic surgery after the 2016-17 season and his game hasn’t been the same since. The Register notes Kesler could undergo hip resurfacing surgery, but that might not give them the longevity to play out the remaining three-years he has on his contract.

Former NHL defenceman Ed Jovanovski, whom Kesler played with in Vancouver and has spoken to about his hip history, had that same resurfacing surgery, which allowed him to play just 37 games in his final season in the NHL.

“It’s one of the big decisions I have to make in the future,” said Kesler, who admitted whatever he decides isn’t solely about hockey.

“I love competing and I love being around the guys, and this year, the hip just got worse. That’s why we’ve got to find some options for not just hockey but my life, my lifestyle alone. Simple things like putting socks on in the morning is tough. I’m weaning myself off the medication and should be done in a month here. After that, we can start discussing other things.

Kesler, who owns a full no-movement clause, is due $20.625 million on his contract – $6.875 million per season over the next three seasons. If he opts for any type of surgery, a buyout is not an option. If his playing career comes to a halt, the Ducks could keep his salary cap hit off the books by playing him on long-term IR.

In 60 games this season, Kesler registered five goals and three assists.