The Vancouver Canucks have plenty of work to do this offseason. They are stuck in the unenviable position between the contenders and the has-beens. Just a few years removed from a Stanley Cup Finals berth, the team stands on the brink of a full-on rebuild after having missed the playoffs this past spring.
At the center of that decision stands Ryan Kesler, a 29-year-old veteran whose status will likely signal the direction management plans to take in the next couple years. If Kesler is traded as he’d reportedly prefer, the Canucks will have begun their rebuild in earnest. If he stays, the situation is less clear. For now though, it appears that GM Trevor Linden is no hurry to pull the trigger either way.
Pro Hockey Talk writes, “The first round of the draft goes Friday. The Canucks appear to be in no hurry to resolve this situation before the draft.”
If the Canucks do want to honor Kesler’s alleged request for a trade, the NHL draft would be the best time to do it. Teams have more cap space now than they will in the middle of the season, offering more flexibility and more options for the Canucks, who can only shop Kesler to teams he approves of, thanks to the no-trade clause in his contract.
Despite all that, Linden has maintained a hard line. “There’s absolutely no timetable there,” he said in reference to dealing with Kesler one way or another.
It appears that if someone wants to acquire Ryan Kesler’s services, they’ll have to offer a premium price for the center, lest the Canucks decide to roll the dice on next season and move forward with their veteran players still on the roster.