Why Ryan Kesler’s trade demand could be a blessing for the Canucks

The above photo was snapped by Jeff Vinnick for Getty Images, and here’s what you’re looking at, according to the caption: “Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks steps off the ice for the last time in the season during their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena April 13, 2014.”

Be assured that Vinnick arrived at Rogers Arena that night intending to get this exact photo. Why? Because he knew, just as many of us knew, that it was possible Kesler wasn’t just heading off for the last time in the season. If the Selke-winning centre gets his wish, this will soon be a photo of him stepping off the ice for the last time as a Canuck.

The regime change in Vancouver didn’t lead to a mind change for Kesler, as TSN’s Darren Dreger said last week. “He wants a fresh start and to move on from Vancouver; he met with Benning earlier this week to talk about that. It’s believed that Kesler still has six teams on his list that he’s willing to be traded to.”

If Kesler does wind up waiving, and thus waving goodbye, Vinnick’s photo goes from literal to symbolic, at which point it’s going to get a lot of play. Good photo, Jeff!

A trade won’t just benefit the best sports photographer in Vancouver, though. It’ll also benefit the Canucks.

It would be very tempting to keep Kesler around for the final two years of his contract. It’s an affordable $$5 million a year cap hit, for one thing, and he’s a versatile and important member of the Canucks’ roster. It’s a safe bet that any trade the Canucks can negotiate will leave them with a Kesler-sized hole in the roster, at least in the short-term. It makes a lot of sense to keep him.

It makes more sense to move him now, though. All of Kesler’s career, he’s been compared to Mike Richards, whom the Philadelphia Flyers drafted with the pick immediately following him. At times, like when Richards broke the 70-point barrier two years earlier, it’s been an unfavourable comparison. But with Richards currently holding down the fourth line in Los Angeles, and likely to go straight from the Kings’ Cup parade into a buyout situation, Kesler looks the far superior player right now.

He won’t look like that for long. He’ll be 30 years old in two months, and with the wear and tear on his body and the way he plays, which is likely to erode him even more, Kesler’s days as a core player on a contender are coming to a close. He’s likely to spend another year or two on the cusp between core and supporting player, making him the ideal fit for a very good team, but for a fading Canucks group, that’s not enough. Better to trade Kesler now and let him turn into Mike Richards somewhere else.

This is especially true given the current trade market.  The Kings’ depth at centre, not to mention the renewed emphasis on the four-line model thanks to New York and Montreal making the East Final, has made Kesler an even more valuable commodity. Even with other centres entering the market – Jason Spezza asked out of Ottawa, Joe Thornton is rumoured to be on the block in San Jose, and the Richardses, Brad and Mike, are likely to get bought out — Kesler is the ideal centre to add.

Kesler is more versatile than Spezza, younger than Thornton, and better than either Richards. Add in his contract and it’s clear that Kesler is the perfect addition for a contending team.

The Canucks are likely to bring in a small windfall for him if they manage their cards right, but it doesn’t happen if Kesler isn’t pushing. We’ve said in the past that while Ryan Kesler is indeed a jerk, that’s a positive if he’s your noted jerk. And what appears to be his final act of noted jerkery as a Canuck — opting out of this market just when things look a bit unstable — could be a boon for Vancouver as well.

26 comments

  1. Steve
    June 12, 2014

    “He’ll be 30 years old in two months, and with the wear and tear on his body and the way he plays, which is likely to erode him even more, Kesler’s days as a core player on a contender are coming to a close.”

    Yes, all that diving takes a toll. Ice is very hard.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      June 12, 2014

      Well, it is.

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      • trav
        June 12, 2014

        And dangerously, groin-stretchingly slippy! I bet Ryan runs across the community pool deck too.

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    • Paul from Yaletown
      June 12, 2014

      If this is the case, Dustin Brown should probably retire after these playoffs. WIth the amount of diving to the ice he does he’s bound to have a career ending injury sooner or later.

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  2. J
    June 12, 2014

    I’m not an economist, but for the luvagod, PLEASE stop referring to hockey players as “commodities”. Each are unique and differentiated, with specialized skills and characteristics – completely unlike a commodity.

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    • J21
      June 12, 2014

      Why has this been downvoted? Pedantic or not, he’s bang-on (and pedantry has always been welcome on this blog). Gold and oil are commodities. Works of art and, indeed, sports players aren’t at all.

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    • Aaron
      June 14, 2014

      A limited commodity but a commodity none the less

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  3. Lemming
    June 12, 2014

    Ah, good riddance. If I were ever in Rogers Arena (slim chance) and he came back on another team, I’d boo him. Hell, I’d probably just boo him now.

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  4. iain
    June 13, 2014

    handling the Kesler trade is of huge significance to the Canucks. not only should it net a decent return, it will set the tone for the team’s management moving forward. by seeing how they handle the trade, we’ll get to see beyond the season-ticket-subscriber-friendly soundbites to where they really think they’re taking the team. we’ll also, critically, get to see how the rest of the league’s GMs will treat the Benning-Linden Tandem (can we call it the BLT?) hopefully they will be more inclined to deal with two league insiders than they were with MG. and then every trade won’t have to be with Florida any more.

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    • Kenji
      June 13, 2014

      BLT.

      I just stared at that for, like, three minutes.

      You’re good. This whole blog is good.

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  5. Andre
    June 13, 2014

    What exactly was the point of this commentary?

    That Kesler is past his prime?
    That the Canucks will improve their line up by trading Kesler? If so, how?
    That the Canucks are undergoing a core change (given that he was part of their core)? if so, what are the consequences? Do they lose contender status by trading him?

    What are you predicting or concluding, other than that Kesler is older now (so are the Sedins)?

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    • GeezMoney
      June 13, 2014

      I’d say the point of this article is clear: if he wants out, not so bad since he is likely to start being less valuable very soon. AND, there are teams interested in him the Canucks might benefit long-term in dealing him now because these teams have good things to aquire.

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      • Andre
        June 14, 2014

        Are you suggesting that this is not self-evident?

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  6. Brent
    June 13, 2014

    Yes I agree, time to trade him. He had a great season with a coach that sucked the life out of many other players. You just know he will get injured again, so do it now when his value is high.

    Plus, watching the playoffs really drove home that we are more than just a few tweaks away from being a contender, we are at best 6th in the west. Might as well get some younger “commodities” for him. Just kidding on the commodities.

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  7. Hedger
    June 13, 2014

    I couldn’t agree more, time to trade him. with his playing style he’s prone to injuries and he doesn’t seem very durable anyways. Several things I don’t like about him, he’s selfish, arrogant and his diving and complaining are embarrassing. I’d add bad hairdo but he seems to have fixed that.
    Now we shall see if mister Benning can live up to his pedigree and get something for him.

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  8. bob
    June 13, 2014

    come on — the real article we want to read is:
    1) which teams
    2) what can want from that team
    3) what we can expect from that team
    4) analysis of likelihood of each scenario

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    • Harrison Mooney
      June 13, 2014

      You want self-generated speculation passed off as insider information? I think you’re looking for HockeyBuzz.

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      • chrìs
        June 13, 2014

        says the guy that writes for yahoo….. *cough cough* “come on man”

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  9. gretchen grouse
    June 13, 2014

    I’m Gretchen Grouse the Grammar geek
    Concerned with how we write and speak
    “That he’s willing to be traded to,”
    As you well know will never do”
    “To which he ‘s willing to be traded”
    Is proper English not degraded!

    Cheers
    Gretchen

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    • Harrison Mooney
      June 13, 2014

      Dammit Gretchen, it’s a quote. A QUOTE.

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    • Tim
      June 13, 2014

      Why is there a quotation mark at the end of the fourth line?

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      June 14, 2014

      Plus, you know, there isn’t anything wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition. That’s just an outdated and silly rule.

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      • Lemming
        June 15, 2014

        Yeah, what this guy said.
        We still understand the utterance despite any perceived affront to English grammar that prescriptionists seem to have.

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    • Lemming
      June 15, 2014

      Prescriptionist.
      There never has been any degradation of English.

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    • iain
      June 16, 2014

      gretchen, it’s the internet. expecting grammar online is a bit like expecting dustin brown to play clean.

      be happy with what you have, and don’t look for the impossible, say i.

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  10. Gored 1970
    June 14, 2014

    How the BLT handle the Kesler affair is critical to their credibility with the fans. Hopefully other GMs respect them and are willing to give and take to get a deal which benefits both teams.

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