Shortly after it was reported Wednesday night that Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler had requested a trade, his agent denied the rumors, but that hasn’t stopped teams from making offers for the two-way forward ahead of the March 5 NHL trade deadline.
According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos and the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, at least four teams are interested in acquiring Kesler.
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Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports shared his take on Kesler’s future during a Thursday radio appearance on The Fan 590.
“I think they’re going to trade him,” Friedman said. “I think there’s always doubt because there’s the injury and how serious it is… if they don’t get an offer they like they’re not going to trade him, but I do think they want to trade him and I think he’s willing to go.”
The 29-year-old forward has two years left on his contract after this season, and his deal includes a $5 million salary cap hit.
There’s no rush for the Canucks to trade Kesler, especially when he has a team-leading 20 goals and is their best defensive forward, but given his injury history, it might make sense to move him now while his value remains high.
Vancouver’s asking price for Kesler is steep, but the veteran forward does have a say in where he goes because of his no-trade clause.
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The Canucks may be forced to rebuild at some point in the near future, and the team’s lack of depth and elite talent among its prospect pool explains the high asking price for Kesler. Vancouver’s inability to draft quality players since the 2004-05 lockout has caught up with the team this season. The Canucks have a one point lead over the Dallas Stars for the last wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference and their streak of five consecutive postseason berths is in danger.
Kesler has tallied 38 points in 60 games this season. He’s currently listed as day-to-day with a hand injury.