Dave Nonis is very underrated. While his drafting record wasn't stellar he did bring in Roberto Luongo for next to nothing (and I say that as a huge Bertuzzi fan). People only remember that this team missed the playoffs under his watch in 2008 and that proved to be his prompt undoing, but they also forget that acquiring Luongo is the only reason the Canucks made the playoffs in the 2006-07 season. They were the lowest scoring team in the regular season to make the playoffs. They improved 13 points over the season prior when they finished 9th place out of the playoff picture.
Dave Nonis should be considered a bit of a groundbreaker, and a man with great foresight (despite the afforementioned draft record), he had the gumption to deal with the then uncommon offer sheet from Flyer's GM Bobby Clarke that would see Kesler leave the organization that had drafted him 23rd overall in the stocked 2003 draft, ahead of four team Canada 2010 Gold Medalists: Patrice Bergeron, Mike Richards, Cory Perry and Shea Weber and a slew of highly touted prospects. At the time of the offer sheet, after a full season to develop in the AHL during the lockout and fresh off a disappointing 23 point season it seemed highly unlikely the Canucks would match the offer. They had a week to do it or lose Kesler, the former first round pick only a few years earlier for a whole compensation of one second round choice from the Flyers the next season. Nonis matched it despite the jeers of his peers around the league; it was feared this grossly inflated contract would make negotiations difficult for all GM's.
Kesler's hattrick last night is truly a benchmark in his career. He is now on the first unit power play in Vancouver. He has worked his way up from defensive specialist to the level of premiere two-way player and one of the best forwards in the NHL. Last year's 75 point performance was a break-out for Kesler, but it's looking more and more like this is a player that is still improving, and the sky is the limit. Kesler cahsed in this past offseason with a 6 year, 30 million dollar contract, and it's looking like a great investment by Canucks GM Mike Gillis.
Kesler has 24 points in 29 games. 11 of those points come on the power play. Since Kes joined the top unit the Nux PP is tops in the league. Kess' 11 powerplay points dount count to his plus/minus that leaves kess with 13 even strength or shorthanded points against a plus-7 rating. His usual Selke trophy competition aren't even close to that with Datsyuk's being 26 even strength or shorthanded points to a plus-10 rating, and Mike Richards with 22 pts to a plus-11 rating. His point totals are soaring, but I think Kesler covets a Selke Trophy win more than point total gains in terms of individual performance. Now that he has focused more of his attention to the on-ice game and not the trash-talk game Kesler may achieve that, and ultimate team success as well.