Zetterberg's skating has dropped off enormously in the last few years. I'm not sure he's much better than Kesler at this point in time, sadly.
Outside of October Zetterberg was one of the best players in the league last year. His skating also improved over the course of the season. He then went on to be one of the best players at the WC. He came back and played on a bad knee in the playoffs the year before and it hurt his start to last year in my opinion. I am not saying he was as fast as he was, but as his back and knee got better he is pretty darn close.
It was funny really statistically Zetterberg lined up quite well with Marty St. Louis. Zetterberg averages .93 PPG in the regular season and .94 in the playoffs for his career.
There are a lot of people in Detroit that actually also think one of Pavel's selke trophies specifically 07-08 should be on Zetterberg's mantle. Kesler won his in a year where Datsyuk played 56 games.
Sorry this really isn't that close and boarderline insulting. Filppula is closer statistically to Kesler than he is to Zetterberg to give you an idea. But that would be about the difference for me here, Zetterberg is that much better than Kesler as he is to Filppula.
As a US hockey fan and Kesler being a local guy, I hope he bounces back off these injuries. But this comparison and talk should not be made. Different zip codes even if you want to put this more on the eye test than just the mountain of evidence. When the Wings need to shut down Crosby they play Zetterberg. He actually still draws some of the tougher checking assignment when matching up even over Datsyuk. That should tell you something about his defensive abilities.
Exhibit A as to how hockey doesn't matter on ESPN:
Last night an ESPN program was discussing how the Detroit Pistons needed a hero citing the heroes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and no mention of the Detroit Red Wings. All this despite the Red Wings probably being the most succesful team in Detroit right now.