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Title - Shaun Maddex
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Canucks: Possible destinations for Ryan Kesler
By Shaun Maddex

Canucks: Possible destinations for Ryan Kesler
The Vancouver Canucks are teetering on the edge of rebuild or no rebuild and what they ultimately decide to do with Ryan Kesler will be a great indicator as to what direction this organization is headed. One thing we can be sure of is the Canucks would have more than a few teams knocking on their door in hopes of acquiring the veteran centre.
PHOTO CREDIT - Mark van Manen/PNG

Edmonton - June 1, 2014 - Ryan Kesler was the hottest girl at the dance that was the NHL Trade Deadline, but in the end Kesler would wake up the next day in Vancouver with a Canuck jersey wrapped tightly around him.

Reports were running rampant from the moment the Olympics ended that Ryan Kesler wanted out of Vancouver. Kesler would publicly deny these rumors, but with all the action surrounding him on that Trade Deadline Day, there is likely some truth to the situation.

The question for Benning and Linden now is whether or not those demands remain in place. It’s likely the first phone call made by these guys was to Kesler and his representation to assess the situation.

Does Kesler want out? Was it simple frustration with the past regime? I don’t know. But it is difficult for a player to have these rumors surrounding him and not have it be a distraction (Roberto is that you?) As such, it is very likely that both sides have decided to move on. If this is indeed the case, then Benning and Linden will be dealing with their very first test as GM and President, and it’s a big one.

The Canucks right now are teetering on the edge of rebuild or no rebuild. The dealing of Ryan Kesler will be a great indicator as to what direction this Vancouver team will be taking. Kesler has value as a trading chip, and the return will be plentiful.

Potential Suitors

Kesler is a dynamic two-way centerman who plays a gritty, pesty, high skill style. He won the Selke trophy for best defensive forward in 2010-11 but since then has struggled to find that same level of point production. Injuries have slowed him down, but this past season he showed flashes of his old self. With a cap hit of $5 million for two more seasons Kesler is signed to a good number.

Kesler plays the tough opposition, and does exceedingly well. His point total was not that great, but he spent a great deal of the season with Hansen and Daniel Sedin. Sedin had one of his worst seasons in his entire career, and Hansen is not exactly known for his offensive firepower. If Kesler is put on a line with offensively capable players, he will not only see an increase in his overall points, but because of his possession stats and two-way ability, his value stands out as even more impressive. He is 29 years old and holds some power with his NTC. This dictates where he can be traded, and handcuffs the Canucks to some degree. The Maple Leafs who likely were offering the best package were knocked out of the running due to this NTC.

Teams, which are lacking a shutdown, offensively capable 2nd line center should be knocking down the door in Vancouver to get this guy on their team. So who might these teams be?

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Those two guys are incredible offensive players, and incredible puck-possession players (which helps to hide any defensive lapses in their game). But the moment Pittsburgh traded away Jordan Staal, a great two-way center that was anchoring the PK and checking line (albeit overpaid at $6 million per season) the Penguins lost a significant piece of their Cup winning team. Brandon Sutter did his best to replace Staal, but he has not been able to carry that same load.

The Penguins are not going to win another Stanley Cup unless they fill out their top 9 with some depth. Insert Ryan Kesler. Kesler would be a guy that could face the toughest opposition, slide onto a line with Crosby or Malkin, kill penalties, and put up points. He would be the new and improved Jordan Staal. The Penguins would instantly become Stanley Cup Contenders once again. Trading for Kesler means trading one of Olli Maata or Derrick Pouliot. Maata had a terrific season in the NHL this past year and Pouliot did the same for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

The Starting Bid: Ryan Kesler for Derrick Pouliot, Brandon Sutter and the 22nd overall pick in this years draft. This is something that both teams would likely want to build a deal around. James Neal and Kris Letang have both been mentioned as trading chips, and as such they could find their way into a deal for Kesler as well. Especially Neal as he would add a nice dimension to the top 6 in Vancouver. He would fit in incredibly well on a line with the Sedins.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild were a surprise success story this past season. Fighting tooth and nails to make the playoffs, and then putting up an incredible effort through two rounds. All this without their number one or even number two goaltender in net. It was an impressive run, and with the addition of Kesler to their top 6 who knows how the series with Chicago turns out. Kesler will bring an added dimension to the Wild that they may have been lacking this past season.

Minnesota is a team that has traditionally been very defensive, but with the additions of guys like Jason Pominville, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, they have become much more than that. Adding Kesler to the mix would be costly, but worth the cost. The Wild would likely have to start the talks with one of Mario Lucia, Jason Zucker, or Nino Niederreiter.

The Starting Bid: Ryan Kesler for Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, and the 18th overall pick.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers are no stranger to big trades. They traded Jeff Carter and Mike Richards within minutes to two separate teams just a couple years ago, which sent shockwaves through the hockey world. With the draft in Philly it would not be surprising to see them make a big splash with a draft day deal to bring in Ryan Kesler.

The Flyers have a decent abundance of young forwards that the Canucks would have interest in. Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton are all players of interest. With the addition of Kesler, the Flyers would be able to sacrifice one of these young players.

The Starting Bid: Ryan Kesler for Sean Couturier, Samuel Morin, and the 17th pick in the draft.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are one of the more interesting teams that might be interested in Kesler. Detroit is starting to get to the point where they need to add some youth to their aging lineup. This past season when Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk went down to injury it was young players such as Nyquist and Tatar that were able to carry the load. It wasn’t even close to enough, and in the Playoffs the Boston Bruins easily handled them. Adding a player like Ryan Kesler to the mix would give the Red Wings a very nice compliment to Datsyuk and would allow the Wings to use Zetterberg in a role that is less taxing on his body.

With a plethora of young players that find their way through the system in Detroit and enter the league NHL ready, the Red Wings may be willing to sacrifice some youth to get back into Cup Contender status. Youngster Anthony Mantha just had an incredible season in the QMJHL for Val-d’Or. He finished with 120 points in 57 games and was named the CHL Player of the Year. Mantha’s success means that one of Tatar, Jurco or Nyquist may be available.

The Starting Bid: Ryan Kesler for Tomas Jurco, Joakim Anderrson, and the 15th overall pick.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks are apparently looking to make some changes to their roster, meaning guys like Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau may be available. If the Canucks are searching for proven NHL players in a Ryan Kesler trade, then this may be the place to start. The Sharks could use Ryan Kesler as perfect complement to Joe Pavelski. He would bring an added element to this team that would instantly make them harder to play against. For the Sharks this could’ve been enough to get them past the Kings in these Playoffs.

Joe Thornton is rumored as the guy to be on the way out. The problem with San Jose is that they are in the same division as the Canucks. This makes a trade very unlikely.

The Starting Bid: Ryan Kesler for Joe Thornton.

Wrap Up

Putting all the main chips into a usage chart highlights just how valuable both Kesler and Thornton were to their teams this past season. It also highlights how poor Sutter was at playing a defensive center role for Pittsburgh. This is why the Penguins would need to add one of their incredible young defensive prospects to any deal involving Kesler. The best trade for the Canucks would be if they could somehow maneuver Couturier out of Philadelphia. His season was simply outstanding for his age, and he will only continue to blossom as he becomes stronger and more experienced.

Thinking up trade ideas is tough. The true value of players is different between every organization. For example, Vanek was valued way more than Gaborik at this year’s trade deadline, but would anyone say the Vanek deal worked out better than the Gaborik deal? Likely not.

The starting bids listed above are just that, starting bids. Something that potential trading partners for the Canucks may be willing to start with. This could also be way off base. The point is that teams must be willing to make a significant deal for Ryan Kesler. He is a very capable two-way player that has seemingly lost his desire in Vancouver. The Canucks have an incredible asset in their hands, and trading him will be a process that could set the course for Vancouver for the next five years. This is one that Benning and Linden cannot get wrong.

Hit me up on twitter and in the comments section and let me know what you think about the potential suitors, and where you think Kesler will end up when Benning pulls the trigger.

**This article uses stats and charts from and**

Follow Me on TwitterShaun Maddex has a passion for playing, watching, and analyzing hockey. Growing up in small towns throughout Alberta meant always playing or watching hockey. He has experience as an editor/columnist for Vavel International and enjoys analyzing all aspects of hockey. He brings a straightforward but insightful experience to the Hometown Hockey readers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at

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