Report: Ducks, Blackhawks Front-Runners In Ryan Kesler Sweepstakes

1388620429_keslerOne of Jim Benning’s first roster moves as Vancouver Canucks general manager might revolve around Ryan Kesler. Two teams reportedly lead the pursuit of the star center.

ESPN.com reported Tuesday, via multiple sources, that the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are the front-runners to land Kesler in a potential trade with the Canucks.

Kesler’s no stranger to trade rumors. His name frequently came up last season at the trade deadline as he reportedly was close to being dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. One hurdle Benning and the Canucks must clear in order to move Kelser, however, is his no-trade clause.

According to the ESPN.com report, Kesler would be open to joining either Chicago or Anaheim. The Penguins reportedly remain on Kesler’s short list of teams he’d be willing to waive the clause to join.

Kesler would be a good fit for a lot of teams, especially those three clubs. The Blackhawks — who reportedly are open to making a splash at this week’s draft — desperately covet a second-line center to slide in behind Jonathan Toews. The same could be said for the Ducks, who could use bolstering down the middle behind Ryan Getzlaf. The Penguins have a solid collection of centers highlighted by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but Kesler could slide to the wing if Pittsburgh enters the conversation.

Kesler is signed through 2015-16 and carries a $5 million salary-cap hit, according to CapGeek.com.

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