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Ryan Kesler signs six-year, $41.25-million Ducks contract extension

Ryan Kesler signs six-year, $41.25-million Ducks contract extension
Ducks center Ryan Kesler celebrates after scoring against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on April 22. (Marianne Helm / Getty Images)

Ducks General Manager Bob Murray has made no secret about his belief that Ryan Kesler's grit, skill and desire embodies what could push the Ducks to a Stanley Cup championship.

Murray paid for those attributes Wednesday, awarding the second-line center a six-year contract extension valued at $41.25 million through the 2021-22 season.

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Kesler, who will be 31 next month, will be 38 at the close of the deal, which has a non-move clause for the first five seasons.

"This isn't my last contract. I want another one after this," Kesler told reporters during a conference call after the agreement was announced. "Right now I'm fully confident I can play out this contract and get another one after."

It's that type of commitment Murray is banking on.

The NHL, more so than ever, is a copycat league when it comes to contracts and extensions for elite players. In 2013, Boston center Patrice Bergeron, 29, struck an eight-year deal for the same annual pay ($6.875 million) that Kesler will earn.

The Ducks don't expect Kesler to be the player he is now six seasons down the road. But the team has a window to win now, and its choice was to pay or lose him.

In the end, the Ducks couldn't afford to let him get away.

Kesler scored 20 goals and had 47 points last season, won a team-best 56.3% of his faceoffs, ranked second among forwards in hits, and was a valued member of both the penalty-kill and power-play units, while participating in all but one regular-season game.

The Ducks had the best record in the NHL's Western Conference and advanced to Game 7 of the conference finals, which they lost at Honda Center to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Two other team stalwarts, center Ryan Getzlaf and forward Corey Perry, both 30, have six more seasons remaining on their contracts.

"I felt more comfortable with voicing my own opinion and just battling with the guys night in and night out," Kesler said. "You become a family. I definitely feel a part of the core group now."

In the last couple of weeks, the Ducks acquired forward Carl Hagelin from the New York Rangers and gained Kesler's friend and former teammate, Kevin Bieksa, from the Vancouver Canucks.

"The way the season ended left a sour taste in our mouths," Kesler said. "We all thought we deserved better. We want to win the Stanley Cup.

"Our team is young, and we have some really good pieces. We just need to put them all together. I'm excited to be part of this group going forward."

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Twitter: @latimespugmire

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