ANAHEIM — There is no one else on the Ducks’ roster that can adequately do everything Ryan Kesler does for them at a high level.
Some are better scorers and others are better passers and pure playmakers. Some might even defend better while it is clear none is more ornery. But in terms of the complete package, there is no one to just plug in and get the same player that directly impacts all areas of the team.
Preparing to deal without Kesler for possibly the first half of the season as he recovers from hip surgery, the Ducks know they have to fill a crater-sized hole in their forward makeup. One can’t do it alone.
“You go by committee and you deal with the depth of your lineup,” Ducks center Antoine Vermette said. “You can’t replace a player like that with one individual. I think you manage to do it with all kind of guys stepping in here.”
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has already announced his move of Rickard Rakell back to the middle after the versatile forward flourished on left wing last season. Who his wingers will be on the line is still to be hashed out.
Carlyle also said Monday that Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg will remain linemates on what will be two-thirds of the team’s best defensive forward grouping. The best option for now will be putting another center in Kesler’s usual spot rather than breaking up the duo because of his absence.
“At this point, we’re going with Plan A,” Carlyle said. “Plan A is we’re going to put a player in the middle of Cogs and Silvy. We think that’s the best way to go forward. Historically, I’ve always been in groups of two anyways so it doesn’t really change it.
“This is a little different obviously with Kes not being available to us. So we think we’re better suited to fill one person into that versus trying to create another line.”
It doesn’t necessarily mean Rakell is that person. The skilled scorer has played with Corey Perry on his right side in the past and had Nick Ritchie on his left in Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage. Those two pure offensive players might be more of a fit for Rakell, who had 33 goals and 18 assists a year ago.
Vermette, who’ll reach 1,000 NHL games played this season, could find himself playing with the responsible Cogliano and Silfverberg. The two are among the team’s best puck-possessive forwards and the veteran’s top-notch faceoff skills could be an asset in light of not having a two-time All-Star.
“Obviously you’d rather have…