Canucks center Ryan Kesler wants out of Vancouver, and he’s reportedly already made his mind up about where he would like to play next season.
According to the Ottawa Sun, the 29-year-old has his sights set on just two clubs, as he “only wants to go to either the Chicago Blackhawks or Pittsburgh Penguins.”
Elliotte Friedman of “Hockey Night in Canada” reports that Kesler’s list also includes the Anaheim Ducks.
Earlier this month it was reported that Kesler gave Vancouver a list of six teams he would like to be traded to, but that number has apparently dwindled.
The Blackhawks have been in the market for a second-line center behind Jonathan Toews for a while, and that need has only increased after the team announced they would not be bringing back Michal Handzus. Andrew Shaw is an option to fill that void, but if Chicago does go after Kesler, they might have to get creative with the salary cap.
Chicago is expected to re-sign both Patrick Kane and Toews to massive contracts by July 1, and although Kesler’s $5 million annual cap hit isn’t outrageous by any means, it might complicate matters.
As for the Penguins, they aren’t exactly desperate for Kesler’s services with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter as their top three centers. Although Malkin or Kesler could shift to the wing, Pittsburgh might be hesitant to target the premier two-way player when they already boast so much depth at the position.
In addition, the Canucks’ asking price is very high, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, and it is uncertain if either team will be willing to part with top players or prospects to acquire Kesler.
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