The Canucks played their first game of the post-Olympic stretch on Wednesday night, and in a stark departure from the seven games they played before it, they even won! Imagine that! Pretty neat, if you ask me.
But even despite coming away with two points for the first time in a month, few are talking about the busted slump today. Much more compelling than the players who played is the drama surrounding the dude that didn’t: Ryan Kesler, who was out with broken fingers after pounding a table in an aggressive trade demand, or something like that. I’m having a hard time keeping up.
There have been rumblings all year that Kesler was unhappy. Prior to the break, there was a rumour that the Canucks and Penguins had nearly reached a deal that would have sent Kesler to the land of Cros. It raised a big question. Why would the Canucks trade Kesler, unless they honestly believed they had no chance at winning this year?
On Wednesday, we got the answer. According to Louis Jean of TVA, because Kesler asked them to:
Sources say Ryan Kesler requested a trade some time ago & wants out of Vcr. Told #Canucks don’t want to trade him but may not have a choice.
— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) February 27, 2014
They may not have a choice? Pardon my netspeak, but LOLZ. That’s what people said about Roberto Luongo, and that dude was on the bench last night (which seemed a bit weird, to be honest, but we’re getting sidetracked).
All that said, trading Ryan Kesler seems a much easier proposition than trading Roberto Luongo. Kesler isn’t hampered by the “Roberto Luongo rule”, for one thing, and he isn’t the only guy who can play his position at any one time.
Teams like to have several centres. And if one of those centres has an established track record of being able to play the wing on skill lines, anchor a shutdown line, play the penalty kill, score in bunches, take his team on his back in the postseason, and win matchups against just about anyone, well, you can see how he’d fit on literally any team that fancies itself a playoff contender.
Boston and Pittsburgh, especially. Imagine the little battle they got into over Jarome Iginla last year, and then imagine if Iginla was still in his prime, was a centre, and Jay Feaster wasn’t trying to pull the trigger while simultaneously swinging a cat around his head by the tail.
Crosby-Malkin-Kesler? Bergeron-Krejci-Kesler? That team wins the East. Heck, that team beats the Blackhawks.
But it’s going to cost.
I’m surprisingly okay with a Ryan Kesler trade, I think because this entire season has allowed it to gradually dawn on me that the Canucks are no longer a contender, and would be smart to start making moves with an eye towards three years from now, rather than three years ago. (Perhaps this was the gambit… all along? After all, according to Jean, the trade request dates back to the start of the season. Maybe the Canucks decided to play mediocre hockey for months, to really massage the fanbase into a place where they were okay with this? Oh, that’s sweet, Canucks. You’re so good to us.)
And with all this talk of how their window is about to close, the right Kesler trade changes the conversation to how their window is about to open. There are definitely some guys out there the Canucks could turn up that would brighten their future the way well-placed mirrors and some task lighting brighten up a room.
(Very important sidenote: WikiHow says the first and best way to brighten a room is to turn on a lamp. Thanks WikiHow!)
Of course, there are a few things working against moving Kesler. The fact that this report is out there, for one. A player’s value drops when a team has to trade him. You want guys pried out of your city. You want to not want to have to move guys. To that end, both Kurt Overhardt and Mike Gillis offered denials Wednesday, the former’s more aggressive than the latter.
(Mike Gillis is busy using all his aggression for listening, according to the most aggressive radio listener in the hockey blogosphere:
McKenzie “I can tell you this, the Canucks are aggressively listening on Kesler and Edler”
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) February 26, 2014
Gillis is apparently the Jason Statham of listening. If he doesn’t listen hard enough, his heart stops.)
Speaking of Gillis, after this report, one wonders what’s going on in the Canucks’ front office that important players keep asking for trades. These requests are becoming alarmingly annual. But I digress.
The other issue is Ryan Kesler’s maybe broken hand. Will it hurt his trade out of town, and was Kesler loudly complaining about how it might in Sochi like a total weirdo? I don’t know the answer to either of those things. But I do know that GMs are fooling themselves if they think they’ll ever get a mint condition Ryan Kesler — even his MacFarlane figure is playing through a hip injury, and the packaging seal comes breached. Still, you want to be able to use him, at least.
Fortunately for the Canucks, the Kesler injury doesn’t sound quite as serious as his desire to move on from Vancouver.