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|
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.