Ryan Kesler and the Ducks both get what they want, but did the Canucks?

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The news we’ve been waiting on to break finally did, maybe somewhat ironically – considering the amount of digital ink that’s been spilled on it in the past handful of months – a tad bit earlier than we would’ve expected, a few hours before the 1st round of the 2014 entry draft gets underway. 

After flexing his No Movement Clause muscles and limiting the trade market to just a few select teams, Ryan Kesler got what he wanted this afternoon with the only NHL team he has ever played for trading him to a division rival. Likewise, the Ducks got what they wanted; a legitimate option down the middle to play behind Ryan Getzlaf, solidifying what was a clear need for them if they wanted to truly have any shot of vying with the Western Conference’s elite. 

They also managed to miraculously do so without parting ways with any of their top prospects, or even their top pick tonight. Which begs the question: were the Canucks the only one not to get what they wanted here?

It was undoubtedly a tough way for Jim Benning and Trevor Linden to make their first really consequential personnel decision since taking over the team, with the contract their predecessor signed Kesler to putting them in a bind. Despite their assertions otherwise, it seemed impossible to envision the franchise wanting to go through another elongated struggle with a star player, dragging on a full season past the point of no return for the two parties. So they had to act, and they had to act coming from a restrictive angle of leverage. 

With that being said, it’s awfully difficult to get excited about the return they got for their 2nd best player. The package revolves around Nick Bonino, and appears to be similar to what was being offered to the Senators for Jason Spezza earlier in the summer. Back then Travis Yost wrote the defining article on Bonino, with this being the money shot:


That quote feels so Ottawa, I’m stunned it didn’t come directly from ownership or the front office through a local radio hit. Nick Bonino. Even if you assume there’s another valuable piece in there, you are talking about an absolute disaster if the return is centered around a third-line center.
And let’s not kid ourselves here. That’s what he is. He was riding the percentage-gods to the tune of 49-points last season, a year where a lot of things fell favorably for him. He’s a 47% career Corsi% player in which his team performs better with him off of the ice, and averages less shots per game in his career than Colin Greening by a fair margin. And, uh, he’s twenty-six.”

Oof. In all likelihood Bonino will wind up being a 2nd or 3rd option down the middle that needs to be sheltered, and can chip in on the power play. Not that there that isn’t any value in that.

As for Sbisa, he was once a highly regarded prospect; so much so that he was taken 19th overall in ’08 by the Flyers, before being traded to Anaheim in a package for Chris Pronger. While he’s still only 24, he really hasn’t shown any sort of tangible evidence that he’ll ever become what some people thought he would years ago. I’m always pro-taking a low risk shot on a former big name prospect that flamed out with his original team, but expectations in this particular case will need to be significantly tempered. 

The 24th pick may very well be the most interesting component of the package, with there surely being some enticing names still hanging around at that point of the draft. Someone like Goldobin, Scherbak, or even Ho-Sang could conceivably be available, and there’s upside there. It could also be used as a trade chip were the team having thoughts of snatching the 1st overall pick from the Panthers. 

The Canucks were always going to get worse as a team seeing as they were dealing away the best player involved, that much we’d come to terms with. The sad irony of the package they did wind up getting is that they were reportedly being offered a better one from the same team back at the deadline. Mike Gillis turned it down because he figured that more teams would be lining up for Kesler come the summer, and he wasn’t necessarily wrong. But what he didn’t account for was Kesler negating any benefits that may’ve come from that by dwindling his list of destinations down to just 2 or 3. There really wasn’t much Jim Benning could realistically do here, as it’s looking more and more like he was being bent over a barrel by things that were out of his control.

With this particular move the problem is that they seemingly didn’t better position themselves for future years. They also made a team in their own division substantially better, but by the time these Vancouver Canucks are even thinking about being considered contenders who knows what the Pacific Division landscape will even resemble?

It’s been 3 years since this happened, and that feels like it was an eternity ago. How long will the 3 years to come from this point on drag on for? At least the drama is over. For now.

  • Honestly, given Kesler’s likely trajectory over the next few years (down, probably fast) and the bind the Canucks were in, I’m pretty okay with this return. Bonino’s not great, but he’s serviceable, and Sbisa’s still young and is a legitimate NHL defenceman, though he may never be more than a third-liner. And a 24th overall pick isn’t bad either – Canucks snagged Shinkaruk at that spot last year, and if the 6th and 24th were bundled with a roster player and/or a prospect (6, 24, Garrison or Tanev, maybe one more lesser piece like a Bonino or a Sbisa) it might pry the 1st or 2nd pick out of Florida or Buffalo (also, no one has talked about going after Buffalo’s 2nd overall pick – since people seem to think Florida will take Ekblad if they keep their pick, wouldn’t it make sense to also pursue Buffalo’s pick?)

  • Not much Benning could do considering the mess he inherited.

    A completely underwhelming return, though.

    Management had their chance to move Kesler out of the conference at last year’s deadline and, shockingly, overplayed their hand.

    Sbisa is the equivalent of Bernier in the Ballard trade: a salary dump.

    Nobody would give him over $2 million on the open market.

    Perhaps delusional Canuck fans will finally come to grips with the reality that this franchise is rebuilding…

  • GarthButchers

    It sounds like Kesler wanted to go to Chi or Ana so I’m surprised they worked anything out. Wish it would have been the 10th rather than the 24th but overall not that surprised.

  • Mantastic

    would love to see the people, who thought they could get 10th+vat+etem, saad/Tev+1st or any other high ceiling guy for Kesler, reaction to this trade and how NM00, PB and myself said that the trade was going to be terribly underwhelming from the get go.

    • The Funky Chicken Has Left The Building

      As chief cheerleader for Vatanen +10, I’ll take this.

      Look back to my original post on the subject; you’ll see that I said “we’ll probably end up with Perreault + 24 + Vatanen, but…”. Bonino is better than Perreault; 24 is 24; Sbisa is worse than Vatanen. Throw in the third rounder, and it’s pretty much a wash.

      • Barnabas

        So I looked back at the original post, and I included Etem in the probable reply. So, revising the assessment: Bonino is better than Perreault; 24 is 24; Sbisa is worse than Vat; and #3 is (likely) worse than Etem. Unless JB can make a silk purse out of Anaheim’s 3rd pick, this is below my expected return.

        • Mantastic

          you also weren’t the only one who made those suggestions. the 2015 3rd van is give up for the 2014 3rd from ana is not a wash, as the 2015 3rd is much better, considering the poor 2014 selection.

  • GarthButchers

    Actually am pretty happy with this deal. Bonnino is a player – padded stats and all playing between the twin towers of anaheim – but still looks like a decent second line centre on a favourable cap deal. Siba has top 4 upside and Benning’s a savant when it comes to drafting so he’ll get an asset at 24.

    Nice job to benning and team considering they were fubared from the start by kesler’s NTC

  • All that posturing about not trading the asset unless it served the purpose of the organization… Underwhelming to say the least unless Bennings knows something about these 2 prospects that the rest of us doesn’t. For Christ sake, we didn’t even get the 10th overall instead settling for the 24th. WTF?

  • Barnabas

    I honestly thought I was being plunked when I read this.

    Worst trade if can think of I the last few years.

    Sheltered centre. Bottom pairing dman, and late 1st rounder.

    benningLinden just destroyed this team.

    Great move. Change is coming, Canucks will be the leafs 2.0 in no time

  • Barnabas

    Canucks now have 2 first round picks (6 and 24) and 2 second round picks (36 and 50) + two fifth round picks. Hopefully they can leverage these into something bigger.

  • Mantastic

    I’m ok, though not overwhelmed, by the return for Kesler. Kesler’s a hard-driven 30 YO and there is the potential for a quick drop-off. If Bonino can continue at last year’s level for a few years and the 24th pick yields something useful, that is likely enough.

    I’m wondering though if after the management change in Vcr Kesler might have been happier to stay but management was looking to trade him. That would certainly be consistent with his decreasing the list of teams he’d waive his no trade clause for.

    I wonder whether Anaheim wanted to dump Csbisa or whether Vcr management saw something in him that would make him a plus. On paper there’s not anything to make one think he’s more than a 6/7 D-man.

    • Mantastic

      I’m sure Anaheim was just glad to get rid of his $2.9 million salary.

      But he’s fine as a 6/7 on Vancouver.

      Fingers crossed that by the end of the year Corrado has solidified himself as an NHL regular…

  • Mantastic

    Seriously!?

    * Kesler wanted out!

    * The team stripped him of his A!

    * Kesler limited Canucks to only two teams for a trade!

    This guy is not worth a penny in my books anymore… disguting!

    This trade is as good as it gets. You guys who complain about it should get a look in the mirror!!

    This is good for the Canucks! Gillis made the mistake not to trade him at last seasons deadline, so there was nothing more to do. Kesler is the bad guy here, not Benning!!