The Trade Deadline is less than 48 hours away and the Penguins remain in on a lot of different scenarios. As I mentioned yesterday, the team isn’t just focused on Ryan Kesler, though, he’s certainly their top target. The Penguins are kicking the tires on other situations such as a third line winger, top-6 forward and they’re monitoring the D-man market. Expect at least one trade from the Penguins but all eyes will be on their pursuit of Kesler.
QUESTION’S REMAIN WHETHER PENGUINS, CANUCKS ARE A TRADE MATCH
The Penguins have certainly been very aggressive in their pursuit of Ryan Kesler and maybe the most aggressive team for him in the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean the Canucks are very excited about what the Penguins are offering or that talks with the Penguins are any more advanced than with other interested teams.
Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review reported Saturday night that the Penguins “proposed a deal that would send Kesler to the Penguins in exchange for center Brandon Sutter, two 2014 draft picks — likely a first- and third-round — and the Canucks’ choice of defensemen Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin.”
I’ve waited to write about the reported proposed offer for over a day until I got some feedback from NHL types around the league
The consensus has been that this proposed deal would be an extremely tough sell for the Canucks and it’s hard to find anyone outside of Pittsburgh who feel the Canucks would even accept the proposed deal if you swap out Despres or Dumoulin with top prospect Derrick Pouliot.
The Penguins, according to multiple sources, have told teams around the league that Derrick Pouliot, Scott Harrington and goaltender Tristan Jarry are off limits. Will Kesler be a special situation for the Penguins to move one of the three and would it even matter?
Potential Complications for the Penguins
1. Brandon Sutter – The Canucks are said to like him and feel Sutter would be a good fit under John Tortorella but he doesn’t fit the the type of young scoring No. 2 type center the Canucks are looking to replace Kesler with were they to move him. Two key questions with Sutter is whether he’s offensive enough and Sutter is starting to get expensive as a third line center. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agency and it’s likely going to cost around $4 million per season to lock him up long-term.
Running down the list of very interested teams, The Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Rangers, and Flyers all have better or higher upside centers to package as the key asset of a trade offer for Kesler:
Columbus Blue Jackets – Ryan Johansen or Boone Jenner
Philadelphia Flyers – Brayden Schenn
New York Rangers – Derek Stepan
Detroit Red Wings – Gustav Nyquist
Of all the teams linked to Kesler, Philadelphia has the look of the most attractive trade partner for the Canucks, though, the chatter surrounding Chicago just won’t go away.
2. Adding second forward to the deal – As Bob McKenzie and many others have reported, the Canucks prefer a top forward prospect over a defenseman as the second key asset in a deal for Kesler. That, according to sources, appears to be a real sticking point in talks with the Canucks to this point, more so than questions about whether Sutter is offensive enough from the Canucks end.
NHL types I’ve heard from in the past 36 hours, wonder if Beau Bennett becomes in play here and a player the Canucks demand as that second key asset in addition to Sutter.
Would the Penguins put him in play?
I’ve heard more no’s than yes’s when asking around today but if the chatter is legit such as Darren Dreger indicated today that Penguins GM Ray Shero “will do everything he can to trade for Kesler by Wednesday’s deadline”, then you can’t rule anything out and that also includes putting one of their top prospects in play that had previously been off limits.
THE NTC FACTOR: WHAT TEAMS WILL KESLER ACCEPT A TRADE TO?
If Ryan Kesler didn’t have a no trade clause, the sense around the league is the Penguins wouldn’t have a shot at him. But, because the Penguins are on Kesler’s shortlist, they remain an obvious contender for him despite lacking some of the key assets some feel needed to acquire him.
This is what we know: Kesler eyes a trade to the Eastern Conference with less travel and closer to some of his family in Michigan.
The talk today is Kesler informed the Canucks of six teams he would accept a trade to with the Canucks believing he could be open to others.
The Penguins, Red Wings and Flyers are at the top of Kesler’s wishlist.
Sources say the Columbus Blue Jackets are a team Kesler could come around to despite his fractured relationship with former best friend R.J. Umberger. The Blue Jackets have shown very strong interest in Kesler and have the forward assets to acquire him. Kesler’s wife is from Ohio and he is said to be interested in playing in a low key area. Some say he won’t go there but it hasn’t stopped the Canucks from discussing a deal with the Blue Jackets.
One team where information is murky is whether Kesler would accept a trade to the New York Rangers as Kesler and Alain Vigneault didn’t get along very well towards the end of Av’s tenure in Vancouver. The Rangers in the mix for Kesler have what is seen as a significant asset in Derek Stepan and could also package for instance JT Miller for Kesler.
The no trade clause is such a wildcard as Kesler can dictate where he wants to go like last year with Jarome Iginla where the Flames had a better offer from the Bruins, but Iginla forced a trade to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s best hope might be for that situation to play out for the second straight deadline as they’re more attractive trade partners for the Canucks.