A Ryan Kesler trade makes plenty of sense for every party involved


For a minute there, there appeared to be a (misguided?) belief that a new brain trust, head coach, and concession menu at Rogers Arena could potentially talk Ryan Kesler into changing his mind. That a new direction and breath of fresh air could sway him towards wanting to be a part of the group that attempted to turn things around in Vancouver after a miserable season. 

Nope. While we’ve yet to hear officially from the player, his agent, or the Canucks, some very reliable sources have come out recently and reported that he’s still in fact looking to be moved to a new destination despite all of the changes around him. 

This is assuredly just the tip of the iceberg in terms of news and reports being leaked, but all of the attention the story will receive is duly justified — the potential return in a trade will go a long way in determining how the respective tenures of the new guys in charge will unfold.

Kesler is one of “The 10” in Vancouver, which means that he’ll have a large (and ultimately, final) say with regards to where he’s moved. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to fully evaluate the landscape without concrete knowledge of his list of teams he’d accept a trade to, and we don’t have access to that yet. 

We can speculate, though, and it’s easy to imagine which teams would particularly have an interest in acquiring Kesler’s services. Back on February 28th I wrote about 3,000 words on fits, and returns, and most of it still applies. With that being said, some subtle nuances have changed. 

For example, it appears that RJ Umberger is on his way out of Columbus; whether his presence on that Blue Jackets roster actually impacted Kesler’s thought process remains an unknown. In Philadelphia, there has been a reshuffling in the front office, and with Ron Hextall taking over the GM gig from Paul Holmgren, it remains to be seen whether they’ll retain the propensity for feistiness that always made the Flyers a candidate for a big move. 

But I’ve buried the lede, because the most intriguing trade partner in terms of both need and assets are the Anaheim Ducks, who have catapulted into the forefront of rumours on this front since the time of publishing. After coming so close to beating the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd round, and some older players coming off of the books, would the Ducks be willing to build on their offer from this past trade deadline? They’ve got so many fascinating young pieces to wheel and deal with, including Sami Vatanen, who more than just turned heads in his first season as an NHLer

Potentially throwing a monkey wrench in all of this is what’s shaping up to be a market packed full of number two centers that will/could be available. Paul Stastny and Mikhail Grabovski are soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton have both been heavily rumoured to be on the block, and even guys on their last legs such as the two Richards’ may very well be bought out by their current teams. 

What Kesler – and the Canucks – have going for them, though, is his cap hit of $5 million over the next 3 seasons; a very reasonable figure that could be very conceivably eaten up by a contender that’s already up against it financially. 

That, and the (relative) renaissance year Kesler is coming off of, in which he was able to hold up physically will logging a ton of tough minutes, moving the needle and scoring 25 goals (which in today’s NHL is hardly anything to sneeze at). 

Age Cap Hit ATOI 5v5 TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Off Zone Start % Corsi For % Goals Assists
Ryan Kesler 30 $5 mil 21:49 15.41 1.258 48.2 52.4 25 18
Joe Thornton 35 $6.75 mil 18:56 14:23 1.127 47.5 58.3 11 65
Jason Spezza 31 $7 mil 18:13 13.69 0.355 55.1 52.3 23 43
Paul Stastny 29 ? 18:24 14.91 1.364 46.7 50.2 25 35
Mikhail Grabovski 30 ? 15:45 13.69 0.383 51.6 51 13 22
Brad Richards 34 ? 18:41 14.37 0.399 66.6 54.1 20 31
Mike Richards 29 ? 16:59 11.98 0.616 58 54.6 11 30

It’s easy to see why teams that consider themselves a piece or two away from being in the thick of it would be salivating at the idea of inserting a player with Kesler’s abilities into the mix. For the Canucks, moving on from an asset that’s quickly depreciating in value and replacing it with multiple young, inexpensive ones is a route that makes plenty of sense. While it’ll probably put a dent in any plans they had of bouncing back this coming season, it’ll surely make them that much better for it in the years to come. 

The playoffs will conclude in 10 days or so, and the entry draft itself is now less than 3 weeks away. It appears that this – and the coaching search – will dominate the headlines around these parts over that time so we may as well come up with a clever name to file all related nuggets under much like “Strombabble” from years past. If you’ve got a witty suggestion, we’re all ears. 

  • This is a tough decision because of the fact that a healthy Kesler at 5 mil is a bargain. #2 center that plays PP/PK can score 25+ goals and is very good defensively.
    Benning is a smart guy and knows the Eastern conference well, so unless Anahiem blows the doors off of a deal, I can only imagine he we will be sent out of cinderence or at least out of division.
    It would be interesting to see if the peices will be NHL ready or if we package the 6th pick and try and grab #1…..

    Unfortunately in the short term a FA like Stasny will cost more than 5 mil and I can’t imagine the same production.

  • Andy

    Fantasy draft time?

    Benning sends Pittsburgh Kesler for Pouliot/Matta and their first;
    Then gets Garrison to waive his NTC to send him and a 6th for the 1st overall pick.

    Kesler + Garrison + 6th pick = Pouliot/Matta + Reinhart/Ekblad + Pit’s R1 pick?

    GMJB would make me a believer…

    • Gunnar

      I like the way you think Andy, the canucks have the pieces to make a deal with florida and move up to the 1st overall pick. And I believe its our turn to win a trade with florida this time (God do we trade with them a lot).I personally would prefer Anaheim as trading partner for Kesler but if Pit offers up both Matta and Pouliot and a 1st well colour me intrigued.

      • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

        I’m not sure even “God do we trade with them a lot,” does the Canucks-Panthers trading situation justice. Sometimes it feels like the Canucks trade exclusively with them.

        Maybe it’s time to slow that train down. Why trade with a team that routinely finishes regular seasons near the bottom of the standings when you could be trading for better assets from better teams? Sure, sending a tremendous asset like Kesler to a division rival and already good team like the Ducks is risky, but if all goes well, the return should at least be somewhat of an equalizer.

        It’s also worth pointing out that the Canucks likely won’t need the #1 pick (projected to be Ekblad); they likely need the #2 pick to lock up Sam Reinhardt (their rumored preferred target).

        In other words, it makes more sense for GMJB to start a very important phone call with a New York area code rather than a Florida one.

        That being said, the return Andy projected from the Penguins would be acceptable and having to see Kesler in black, white and gold only twice a season does ease the pain a little.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      I don’t see in what world a top-4 defenseman and a #6 overall pick gets you a #1. If any of the top 3 picks really are on the table you have got to think that they’ll be worth more than a defenseman on a big contract coming off a middling year and a move down the draft order. And if I was Pittsburgh there’s no way I’m trading one of my top prospects and a first for an aging though very good center.

      This isn’t EA sports. Why would other teams just take our problems so that we can retool? At the very best we’ll get a draft pick and a mid-range prospect or a decent roster player.

      • andyg

        I’d trade for him but you would not get a first round draft pick I’d give you Pouliot Scuderi and the rights to Niskanen but I’d want Kessler and a 3rd round if Niskanen signs.

      • Andy

        While it sounds like a fantasy situation, it helps that we have news reports like this that give us a sense of what the landscape is like.


        They’re looking to add some defensemen, Garrison has the second best value (after Hammer). It’s a situation that goes from ‘haha good luck’ to ‘it could happen’

        Long story short, Florida looks to be relying on their pick to be 6-15, so if we can move up for the price of an aging d-man, it’s a long shot, rather than a no-shot.

        • andyg

          I don’t disagree that there’s a lot of rumors out there, but I think it’s a long distance from what is actually in play and what we hear through the rumor mill. I’m sure Tallon’s entertaining offers for the #1 pick — what responsible GM wouldn’t? But in a market where Spezza, Thornton and Plekanic are also available in addition to Kesler, I wonder just how much leverage the Canucks really have? Not that he replicates what they do, just that it goes from him being arguably one of the hottest commodities at the deadline last year to being one amongst many options this off-season.

          I also find it highly unlikely that Garrison would be the piece that Florida would settle for. I don’t think he’s close to the second best of the top-4 in the Canucks. In fact I would rate him as probably #5 behind Hamhuis, Edler, Tanev, Bieksa, and really just a shade ahead of Stanton and Corrado.

          But I also think that the price for that #1 (or any of the top 3) is unlikely to be worth it to move up three spots.

          • Andy

            Van: I apparently don’t know the Anaheim prospects very well; given that Perrault & Lindholm are both centers, then that package works just as well.

            PB: While it’s true that Spezza/Thornton/Plekanec do decrease Kesler’s value, I think Kesler’s got a pretty proven track record of ‘grit/heart’ and intensity that many (perhaps incorrectly) find absent in Spezza/Thornton. For teams like ANA/PIT, Kesler gives them a hard-nosed shutdown option, with a side order of points.
            The other encouraging part of Kesler’s situation is his contract – $5M for 2 years looks mighty attractive if you’re a cap team near the top.

            You’re probably right on the overvaluation of Garrison – it just happens that he makes the most sense of our top-4 D (Bieksa & Edler both look pretty set on staying, Hamhuis’ is worth more and is harder to replace).

          • andyg

            I think that Kes has a unique skill set that will separate him from the others.

            It will be interesting to see what they get back in return.

            It pushes the team farther towards a rebuild but could bring in some solid assets that could also speed things up.

          • Andy

            Kesler can definitely be a shutdown center in a way that Thornton or Spezza can’t but does that make him more valuable? I’m not sure. And I still can’t see how/why Anaheim would send a promising young C, a second C with comparable stats to Kesler and a high draft pick for him. Would Kesler really take a contender over the top to the next level? Don’t get me wrong, I love his shot, his speed, and some aspects of his competitiveness. I just don’t think he’s going to be as highly valued elsewhere (especially with other things on the market) as he is being here.

          • andyg

            I am not one who is suggesting that we will get a young C with comparable stats. I too think that is unlikely. I am thinking that we are looking at prospects not a player who has started to prove himself at the nhl level.

            Players like Rakell,Theodore,Etem,Smith-Pelly and draft picks.

          • andyg

            I do think we should move Kesler, especially since it appears he wants out. I just don’t think if I was Anaheim I’d necessarily move him for that package. Maybe a player and a pick, but in that case likely good prospect and mid-pick or middling roster player and decent pick. I can’t see how Kesler would be worth a high prospect and a high pick.

          • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

            Oh you never give up do you, shill.
            Pathetic shameless canuck mouth piece.

            Hey everyone from the east, welcom to canuckshillsarmy. Here we talk BS about every useless stat cause the Canucks are just losers. We also have shill writers like Shill Sambony and Flippy Ruskie.

            44 years and counting ladies.


  • Gunnar

    Kesler wanting out is the best thing for this franchise. Watching these playoffs can even the must die hard nucks fans truly believe that a scoring winger and tweak or two here and there would allow the canucks to compete and win against LA, SJ, ANH, CHI, STL. Hell we are probably at the point of listing COL and MIN at “elite” status, god the wet is deep.

    This ain’t a retool its a rebuild. The sooner they start it the better, nobody wants to be a calgary. Now I’ve been calling Big T and Benning with my ideas on how they should go about this rebuild but for some strange reason they haven’t returned any of my calls… must be a problem with my provider. So I’m going to post my ideas here, let the rosterbation begin.

    Trade Kesler to Anaheim for both their 1st round picks (10th and 24th) one of the top prospects, Dimtri likes Vatanen I can get behind that, really the ducks have the best prospect system in the game there are a lot of options. And a roster player, I figure the nucks need a centre back so why not make it Andrew Cogliano.

    Trade Garrison (NMC providing) Hansen and the 6th overall to Florida for the 1st overall and Jovocop who is immediately bought out.

    Draft 1st, 10th, and 24th this year. Benning is a prospect guru I leave the specific picks to him. Send everyone back to junior including Hovart. All prospects eligible to go to AHL go for the year learn to be a pro.

    NHL roster as follows
    H.Sedin, D. Sedin Burrows
    Cogliano, Booth, Kassin
    Matthias, Higgins, Jensen
    Richardson, Santorelli, Archibald

    Hamhuis Bieksa
    Elder Tanev
    Stanton Corrado
    Tom Gilbert or player like him


    Gilbert or player like him is only signed for a 1year deal so he can be dealt a deadline. Sestito moved this offseason for anything, plenty of teams still think players like him are useful so send him there. Do everything to rehabilitate Burrows, Booth, and Edler so they can be moved deadline day. The canucks should be able to get a decent haul of picks and prospects for these guys if they have rebound seasons (In Booth case a season). Elder in particular should bring back nice s@$%. Bring up the young guys from Utica loose with style and have as many bullets in the chamber for the 2015 draft.

    Well thats how I would do it if I was in charge, be as nice as possible when you savage me in the comments with your thoughts.

    Cheers G.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      I don’t mind the trade aspect of your post but I see a plus side in keeping the roster together and making a run at the playoffs.

      Next years draft has a true superstar at the top and is widely believed to be better than this years crop of prospects, so it might be to the Canucks advantage to hold on to Kesler until the trade deadline.

      If adding a Vanek and Stasny happens and they work out well with a new coach then GREAT there might be a playoff run in the Canucks, especially if a full offseason with Rollie helps Lack.

      If the canucks are in the same boat middling on the playoff bubble, then teams like Pitts/Ana/ Philly. Will be willing to overpay for the services of Kess….. Which could mean more picks in a deeper draft. Now the gamblers side is that Kess gets hurt and the whole thing falls apart, but I would say you can’t make trades expecting injuries…. They happen.
      I like Benning taking a very good player with 6th then either making a playoff push, or having multiple picks in a better draft. By the time those picks are ready to suit up in an NHL uni…3 -4 yrs, the Sedins will be off their 7mil contracts and either move on or are 3rd line at vets helping tutor the young guys.

      Bottom line is I trust Benning to make the proper moves, that Gillis would have over publicized then taken a terrible deal.

  • andyg

    I have no problem trading Kesler to the Ducks I’d they provide the best return. With Kesler the Ducks will be challenging for the cup, without Kesler, the Canucks will not so it’s not like we’ll be going head to head in the playoffs. It’s very important for the Canucks to manage the assets we get back from these trades so in 3 or 4 years when all the NTC’s are off the books we have a good young team on the ice.

    If we can get a couple of young players from Anaheim ( any 2 of Vatanen, Smith-Pelly, Etem) and Ottawa’s 1st which we could use to grab Ehlers or Fleury we would significantly improve our young talent. I know a lot of people like Etem but he is a California boy and should be a marketers dream for that franchise but he hasn’t been able to crack the lineup since he was drafted in 2010. Use our 6th to get Dal Colle if he falls or Nylander or Virtanen.

  • andyg

    I would not waist assets moving up.

    Every one talks about the top 5 but it may not be as fixed as people think. Players like Nylander, Ehlers, and Kapanen are high end talents and one or 2 of them may go higher then we think. Also any one of them would look good in a Canuck jersey.

    We will get a very good player at six. I would rather see us acquire an additional pick then give up assets to move up. (number 10 would be nice)

  • andyg

    Imo we should be looking for two pieces for kes. A young Center than can replace him. Sean couturier and a prospect or top 20 pick in this years draft.

    Also. I say we call this Kessslurp

  • DrChill

    I think e most interesting choice would actually be Tampa. They have the right mix of youth and experience. You bring in a Kesler, maybe resign Callahan, wow shutdown line. They also have loads of young talent. They don’t have the 10th pick like Anahim but unless your using that to trade up for Reinhart that is ok.

    Killorn, Namestnikov , 1st, Connelly
    for Kesler and 3rd


  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    First off, I think Jim Benning has a much higher hockey acumen than Michael D so I trust him with Canuck assets.

    Canucks should’ve been making these types of deals for a while. Deal 1 prime time vet for 2 or 3 blue chip pieces. It keeps the team relevant. Michael D failed at doing this and it may kill us.

    Benning has a couple of key pieces left. Kesler, maybe Edler and maybe Hamhuis. I can’t see the Sedins or Bieksa moving.

    I’m hoping Benning can deal Kes and get some legit talent. I like some of the pieces in Anaheim but if they take Smith-Pelly off the table then maybe look at Detroit. A deal for Tatar, Jurco and their 1st round pick this year would be an enticing deal. You could make it bigger by adding Hansen and/or Higgins from here and them adding Shehan or Janmark.

    Anyone we draft won’t make an impact for years so we need to hit a homerun on a Kes deal and free agency.

  • andyg

    I imagine that there will be significant effort on Anaheim’s part to move Perreault as part of a Kesler trade. Hear me out:

    Perreault was a talented, young, slightly undersized centre in Washington under Boudreau. When Boudreau was canned by Washington, Perreault basically followed Boudreau to Anaheim so that he could climb the depth chart.

    Now, Kesler going to Anaheim means that either Bonino or Perreault is a superfluous #3. And the circumstances make me suspect that Boudreau may feel he ‘owes’ Perreault the opportunity to play above the #4 spot, and that he will encourage Murray to move Perreault as part of the deal, to give the kid a break.

    While I would prefer Bonino+#10+Vatanen+Etem, I suspect that a final deal might be Perreault+#24+Vatanen+Etem. From what I understand, Bonino is untouchable in Anaheim.

    • andyg

      Entirely possible scenarios but I wouldn’t want anyone coming back that isn’t a potentially top 6 player. We have a TON of bottom 6 prospects. Top 6 material or it’s pointless to deal Kes.

      Canucks don’t have a future #1 centre and may have a potential #2 centre in Horvat. Now is the time to look for top 6 guys and see if they can help in the very near future.

  • andyg

    Unless you actually manage to get quality assets back (blue-chip, top 15 pick, top 6 player) why dilute Kesler’s value. A low first, roster player and prospect could be like getting Gaunce, Jensen and Higgins, which wouldn’t help. Trade for Couturier, without the add ons. Or Tanev/Garrison and Kesler for Hedman. The only kind of deal where we might win the trade.

    Sign Grabovski and resign Santorelli so we don’t have to trade for a centre. Trade Kesler. Trade Garrison (and Tanev if you can get Stralman). Get the best UFA winger you can for the Sedins.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      I should hope not.

      GMPC is talking about moving Marchand to clear cap space.

      Fortunately, them dealing Marchand’s contract at $5 mil to take on Kesler or Edler’s for the same amount in return solves none of their camp’s cap problems, so it looks really unlikely, anyway.

      As an aside, I was reading some Bruins fan boards earlier this evening for giggles and I must say that there are some people who are really unhappy with GMPC and their core. There’s even some pretty sacreligious (for Bruins fans, anyway) mutterings about being dissatisfied with having a bunch of big, dumb, low skill, third and fourth line grinders (no exaggeration; their words, not mine) when they could/should be icing higher skill players.

      So much for the “Boston Model,” I guess if your own fans blame the style of hockey you’re playing and the players you’re icing for a second round elimination despite a recent cup and another trip to the final last season. Then again, maybe they’re just spoiled.

    • andyg

      I expect the Canucks will be lowballed really badly, which will probably mean that Kesler will remain a Canuck for at least the start of the season. At least I hope that’s what happens if the Canucks get lowballed.

      If they get lowballed and take the deal anyway, I’ll be the first to start the #FireBenning bandwagon.

      • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

        Actually, no, you wouldn’t.

        I believe the CA resident troll created that handle and used it for a post before Benning was even officially hired. Of course, he’s completely insane and doesn’t count as an actual person, so technically, you would remain the first.

        I think if they can’t get a suitable return Kes will be retained and continue to give it his all in a similar fashion to the way Luongo did when he wanted out.

        People often forget that these are very highly paid professionals playing at the highest level of their sport that we talk about in these forums; by and large, they act accordingly.

      • andyg

        But what is the purpose of keeping a Kesler who wants out for the next two years?

        Teams certainly will not pay more as Kesler gets older and has less years of control remaining.

        And there’s always the risk of injury/underperformance diminishing his value even more.

        Sure, Kesler can help the Canucks battle for a wildcard spot.

        But count me amongst those who have had enough of the lower mainland axis of mediocrity…

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    My biggest concern with the whole “Kessler” deal is why doesn’t he wait to see who the coach will be?

    I understand getting traded to Pitt or Anaheim, two teams that have some of the best talent in the league, but there is no guarantee.a Detroit/Philly or Columbus is on the move. Granted the Eastern conference is easier and there is less travel, but a cup contender?

    There is something else going in and I like the fact Benning has no allegiance to any if these players. No personal interest in seeing a Garrison trade work out or Edler develop the way Gillis expected. My guess is that unless a team blows Benning away at the draft , Kessler is lining up next to Burrows and hopefully Stasny next year.

    Bylsma could bring a new energy and uptempo game to the Canucks. He seems the perfect fit since he was put in a similar position to AV. He had President trophy winning team with multiple AllStars, only to be let down in big games by shaky goaltending. Danny B was in a win the Cup or the entire year is a waste. Crosby is in charge of the Pens and that was noticeable from the yelling match between the two that ended with Dan taping his chest and taking responsibility, warranted or not.

    I have been on Stevens band wagon, but with an offensive guy like Bylsma available Trev has to do the right thing.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    these guys wanting out of their contracts and out of there teams are really ruining their value as far as their respective teams go, all other gms see these guys wanting out and of course they are going to low ball , a majority of these posts on here have multiple prospects, picks and roster player coming our way for kesler . sorry to say time to be realistic. i’d love to have ll that but really its not gonna happen, it would more likely be a pick and a secondary roster player or a pick and a prospect. if its Anaheim , their 1st and one of etem, perreault etc. maybe phili would give you their pick and a rfa like schenn who will likely want more money then their cap can accommodate .I cant see Det giving up their pick, and their cap might hurt them which a lot of teams are in the same boat(Tor,chi,bos). we can only hope Benning will hook us up better then what gillis could . it would be great to see kesler stay ,his play is the type of play the team should aim for but if he doesn’t want to be their ,life goes on.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    I’m with those who believe Kesler is doing the Canucks a favor by askin for the trade. Not sure what a reasonable return is, but I hope that the new mgt just gets it done. But Dimitri’s post also makes me think that maybe the Canucks can ask for younger players, then try to get one of the free agents. For example, Grabovski took a while to get a deal last summer. If someone hangs around again, maybe the Canucks can get a lesser 2C for two years, while the prospects begin to develop. At least compete for a wildcard berth.