Canucks center Ryan Kesler wants out of Vancouver, but he won’t accept a trade just anywhere. The 28-year-old is pushing for a deal to either the Chicago Blackhawks or Pittsburgh Penguins this offseason, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
That’s not good news for Vancouver, as Kesler owns a no-trade clause and can effectively determine where he’ll go next. Since asking for a trade last fall, he’s apparently been waiting for the right opportunity to leave as the Canucks’ long-term fortunes look increasingly murky.
The right opportunity, according to the report, would be in Chicago or Pittsburgh. That’s rather understandable, too, given that both teams are expected to be among the NHL’s top contenders next season, and adding Kesler to either roster would only bolster those Stanley Cup odds.
In Pittsburgh, the fit appears to be less clear, as the Penguins already have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter filling their top-three center spots. Malkin could slide to a wing spot or Sutter could be allowed to walk as a restricted free agent, but either way, Pittsburgh would need to shuffle things around to make room.
The fit in Chicago makes more sense, though salary cap issues could complicate things. The Blackhawks badly need a No. 2 center behind Jonathan Toews after letting go Michal Handzus, but money will be tight for the franchise once Toews and Patrick Kane are signed to major extensions next year. Unless the two sides can get creative, fitting Kesler into Chicago’s cap would likely be difficult.
So the Canucks’ difficult situation with Kesler only gets more complicated, unless he’s willing to open up his list of possible new teams. Otherwise, Vancouver may be forced to settle for a less-than-ideal trade with one of the teams he does approve of.