Speculation is growing the Canucks will trade Ryan Kesler this week, but are there suitable destinations for him? Can the Blackhawks afford to land him? Or the Ducks? Read on for the latest.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are considered the front runners for Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler. However, a source claims the Canucks won’t move him unless they get a suitable return. Kesler apparently favors those two because of his desire to win a Stanley Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins are also believed to have interest in Kesler but it’s unclear if he’ll accept a trade to Pittsburgh. What happens to Kesler could affect the Ottawa Senators efforts to trade Jason Spezza, as they could be waiting to see what the Canucks do first.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma speculates a Kesler trade could set off a chain reaction of deals. If the Canucks can land the tenth-overall pick (along with a package that includes a center and a winger) from the Ducks, they can then try to shop their first-round pick (sixth overall) in a package to the Florida Panthers for the first overall pick. Kuzma notes the Panthers need wingers and defensemen and “might bite on prospect Hunter Shinkaruk”. If the Panthers were willing to take back former Panthers blueliner Jason Garrison they could insist the Canucks take back some salary, which ownership isn’t willing to do. Kuzma also wonders what impact the Penguins recent change of management could have upon their earlier interest in Kesler. He also noted the Ducks have considerably more cap space than the Blackhawks to take on Kesler’s $5 million annual salary.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough speculates the Canucks, despite their heated rivalry with the Blackhawks, might prefer sending him to Chicago than to a division rival like the Ducks. The problem is freeing up sufficient cap space to take on Kesler’s salary.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus reports Patrick Sharp might not be enough for the Blackhawks to pry Kesler out of Vancouver. He cites a source claiming the Canucks want “either Brandon Saad or Teuvo Teravainen included in any package, which likely would be a nonstarter for the Hawks.”
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Eric Stephens reports the Ducks have the need and means to pull off a significant addition this summer, citing Kesler and Ottawa’s Jason Spezza as the “main realistic options”. The Ducks hold the 10th and 24th picks, along with two second-round picks, in this year’s draft. They’re also deep in promising young players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Sharp isn’t willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Vancouver, and if the Blackhawks aren’t willing to part with any promising young players, Kesler won’t be going to Chicago. The Blackhawks must free up cap space to take on Kesler’s contract, meaning a dollar-for-dollar swap or convincing the Canucks to absorb part of Kesler’s contract, which doesn’t sound like something Canucks ownership wants to do. Anaheim appears the better trade partner but the Canucks could try to squeeze them for more than they’re willing to give. That could force the Ducks to consider acquiring Spezza.
If the Ducks and Blackhawks are out, and the Penguins aren’t interesting in revisiting their previous GM’s interest in Kesler, the Canucks center will have to expand his trade list if he truly wants to be dealt this summer. The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars could be viable options if Kesler is willing to accept either club as trade destinations.