It was just two days ago that Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis told reporters that he was approaching next week’s trade deadline as a buyer, with an eye on adding a player to complement second-line center Ryan Kesler.
Now he may have to put the Team USA star up for auction instead.
Jean, a reporter with Canada’s French-language TVA network, tweeted shortly afterward that it might be tough to move Kesler before the deadline and that a deal might be easier to construct around the NHL Draft in June.
There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the big center’s health. Kesler was hurt while blocking an Ilya Kovalchuk shot during Team USA’s win over Russia in Sochi. He played through the injury in the rest of the Americans’ games, then underwent a MRI upon returning to Vancouver. The team hasn’t released the results of the test, but did rule Kesler out for tonight’s game against St. Louis.
Kesler also has a no-trade clause which could limit Gillis’ options, as would his desired return. Jean believes the Canucks would be looking for a hockey trade, meaning that Gillis wants a player or players who could immediately help the team rather than picks or prospects. Those deals are always tougher in-season, especially for a team in contention that might want to avoid a significant shift in chemistry.
Still, Kesler, who currently leads Vancouver with 20 goals, will earn $5 million per season through 2015-16. That’s a pretty reasonable bite considering all he brings to the table when healthy, and two more years at that cost would appeal to a number of teams. If the MRI comes back clean, he’ll be the center of attention heading into next Wednesday’s deadline.
UPDATE: Kesler’s agent has promptly denied Jean’s report.
Ryan Kesler has NOT requested a trade, his agent Kurt Overhardt tells me. Says reports saying so are "BS"—
Adrian Dater (@adater) February 27, 2014
Who to believe? Jean’s sources are typically immaculate, which would suggest that Overhardt is in damage control mode. Then again, he’s known to be a straight shooter, so we’ll have to let this one play out.