Canucks GM Benning on Ryan Kesler's status: 'We're still going back and forth on that'

May 30, 3:38 PM

The Ryan Kesler question is perhaps the central challenge facing new Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning early on in his tenure with the club. 

Kesler is a former Selke winning center and 40-goal scorer who is about to turn 30-years-old. While Kesler remains an elite penalty-killer and a reliable 20 goal scorer, he seems to have lost the top-end of his fast ball. He also reportedly requested a trade at the NHL trade deadline, and is believed to be willing to accept an offseason deal to one of at least six possible destinations this summer.

When Benning was introduced to fans and media in Vancouver late last week, he spoke as if retaining Kesler's services was a priority. This week, in an appearance on the Brady and Walker show on Sportsnet 590 the Fan on Friday, Benning updated the status of his negotiations with the disgruntled two-way forward.

"I touched base with the agent, and with Ryan yesterday," Benning answered in response to a question about Kesler's trade request. "We're still going back and forth on that. We're going to listen to Ryan. We're going to have a good, open, honest communication. Where it leads to, at this point, I don't know, but we've had open communication with him and his agent."

That is mostly a non-answer from Benning, but it doesn't exactly sound like Kesler will prove easy for Vancouver's new management team to bring back into the fold. 

Kesler has two-years at $5 million remaining on his current contract, a reasonable figure for an effective if oft-injured two-way center. With a dearth of center talent on the unrestricted free-agent market, Kesler will likely prove to be a heavily sought after commodity on the trade market this summer if he is made available.

[H/T: Sportsnet]

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Jeff Vinnick

June 27, 3:12 PM

Ducks officially acquire Kesler for Bonino, Sbisa, 24th-overall pick

June 27, 3:12 PM

The Anaheim Ducks officially landed the second-line center required to combat their Californian rivals in the postseason. 

The Vancouver Canucks traded Ryan Kesler and a 2015 third-round pick to the Ducks for forward Nick Bonino and defenseman Luca Sbisa, along with the 24th and 85th picks in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

The Ducks avoided forfeiting both a top prospect and the 10th-overall pick in this year's draft with Canucks general manager Jim Benning's hands tied.

With the draft hours away and only the Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks included on Kesler's list to waive his no-trade clause, Anaheim was able to fulfill a glaring weakness at a rather modest price.  

The Canucks did acquire a solid piece in Bonino, with whom they hope will blossom into their next second-line center while Sbisa, despite a familiarity with newly-appointed head coach Willie Desjardins, is an underwhelming third piece. 

Now with two first-round selections, the Canucks appear primed to continue dealing when they step on the draft floor. TSN's Bob Mckenzie suggests that they are still eyeing the draft's top selection, after trading defenseman Jason Garrison to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a second-round pick in this year's draft

June 27, 1:52 PM

Report: Ducks acquire Ryan Kesler for Bonino, Sbisa, 1st-round pick

June 27, 1:52 PM

The Anaheim Ducks have reportedly acquired Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and the 24th-overal pick, per TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

The two sides will also swap third-round picks, per the report. 

Dreger pointed out Thursday that general manager Jim Benning and the Canucks' management team were under "a heightened sense of urgency," and it appears as though they have moved the forward just hours before the draft. 

According to Andy Strickland of FOX Sports Midwest, Kesler didn't give the Canucks many options for organizations he would accept a trade to. 

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/ Jerome Miron

June 26, 5:16 PM

Report: Trade market heating up for Canucks' Kesler

June 26, 5:16 PM

The Vancouver Canucks are trying to trade malcontent center Ryan Kesler ahead of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, Pa. on Friday night. While it was reported Wednesday that the Canucks were feeling underwhelmed by the offers for Kesler, recent developments suggest that this new Canucks management team may have more success moving a star player at this year's draft, than their predecessors had in Newark, N.J. last June.

"There's a heightened sense of urgency," TSN's Darren Dreger reported on an NHL Draft Preview segment at TSN.ca on Thursday afternoon, "and some close to the situation believe that a trade will happen within the next 24 hours."

In an appearance on Vancouver sports talk radio station the Team 1040 shortly thereafter, Dreger's colleague Bob McKenzie suggested that something on the Kesler market has shifted substantially over the past 24 hours. He hasn't quite pinned down what the substantial something is, however:

I do get the sense that something has happened in the last 24 hours that has accelerated the timetable a little bit. There's never any guarantee a deal gets done on anybody's timetable, but there is a sense that this thing could get done (some time between now and the draft on Friday night).

So that means one of two things happened in my mind. Either one of the Chicago Blackhawks or Anaheim Ducks - the two teams that were really front and center... have altered their offers and made things a little more interest for the Vancouver Canucks or... maybe somebody from outside the pack has come in, and maybe it's something that Ryan Kesler is prepared to listen to over and above some of the teams on his original six team list...

Whatever it is, something has happened in the last 24 hours to lead us to believe that the likelihood of a Kesler trade is more likely than it was (yesterday).

Whether the Ducks or Blackhawks have sweetened the pot - and it doesn't seem as if the Ducks have - or a classic "mystery team" has entered the fray and complicated things, one thing is clear: there are a number of clubs that would love to add the former Selke-winner and U.S. Olympian. That's apparently what's shaking up this process, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.

LeBrun also described a "stand off" between the Canucks and Kesler over the narrow exclusivity of his list on an Insider Trading segment at TSN.ca on Thursday evening.

The problem for those clubs (and for Vancouver to some extent), is that Kesler's contract has a full no-trade clause. He still gets to press send on any deal that he's involved in. Kesler's list is more exclusive than what you'd find at a trendy club, though that hasn't stopped teams from going to great lengths to get in:

With the draft set to kick off in slightly over 24 hours, Kesler's status appears to be the big domino. Will he fall this time around, or will Vancouver's inability to move him hold up the market as it reportedly did at the 2014 NHL trade deadline?

June 25, 8:55 PM

Report: Nothing imminent on Kesler trade front, offers 'aren't good enough' for Canucks

June 25, 8:55 PM

The Vancouver Canucks have long been expected to trade former Selke winner Ryan Kesler at the NHL Entry Draft this weekend, but according to a report from TSN's Bob McKenzie, "There's nothing imminent" on the Kesler trade front, in part because the offers just aren't good enough at the moment.

Kesler has two-years and $10 million remaining on his current contract, which includes a full no-trade clause. While Kesler has given the Canucks a list of six teams he's willing to be moved to, the teams presumed to be at the top of his list - the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks - appear to be unwilling to meet Vancouver's asking price at the moment.

"I get the sense that Anaheim and Chicago believe that maybe they're the only two teams in the running," McKenzie said during an Insider Trading segment on Wednesday evening. "Therefore the offers aren't good enough for what Vancouver wants to do. 

"The Vancouver Canucks are not going to do this deal if they don't get the right amount, at least not at the draft."

So the Canucks may hang onto a disgruntled star player who wants out of Vancouver, rather than trading him? That seems familiar. 

June 24, 5:30 PM

Report: Ducks, Blackhawks frontrunners to acquire Canucks' Ryan Kesler

June 24, 5:30 PM

The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are considered frontrunners to acquire the services of Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, according to ESPN.com.

Kesler would prefer to land in a city with a legitimate chance at winning a Stanley Cup, and both of those destinations would give him that chance.

Both teams have a need to upgrade at the No. 2 center position, and Kesler would certainly fill that need for them.

It will now be on the Ducks and Blackhawks to put together an offer that is satisfactory to the Canucks, who do have the final say as to where Kesler will be playing this upcoming season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have also reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Kesler's services.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/John E. Sokolowski

June 20, 11:54 AM

Linden: Canucks 'haven't completely resigned ourselves' to trading Kesler

June 20, 11:54 AM

Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden joined Team 1040 Friday morning to discuss, among other things, the status of center Ryan Kesler and his apparent desire to be traded at some point this summer.

Here's what he had to say, as transcribed by theScore's Thomas Drance:

Well for us, there is not a timeline. Obviously I think we have a good relationship with Ryan, played with him, think very highly of him as a player and what he brings. I'm in constant communication with Ryan and we're working through some things.

I can't tell you a lot. We're working with Ryan, obviously, to make a situation that can work for both sides, and that involves many options, so other than that, I don't want to go to far down that path... It's unfair to the process, to Ryan and to what we're talking about.

Obviously we've talked at length internally, but we haven't completely resigned ourselves that's the path we're going to go down. With Jim (Benning) being here, obviously he has a real vision of what he wants and, you know, Jim likes Ryan as a player - so we're not totally at the point where we're down one path or another. We're still looking at all options.

Add it all up, and it seems as though the Canucks would be happy to retain Kesler's services as a valued member of the club, or would prefer to trade him in-season when suitors may cough up more to fill a hole or to help in a playoff push. 

Vancouver may also be waiting to see how Kesler fits with a new head coach, who Linden hopes to have in place by July 1.

Anaheim and St. Louis are believed to be most interested in Kesler, but several other teams may step up if the Canucks do decided to trade the talented two-way player.

June 13, 4:27 PM

Canucks GM Benning: 'We're trying to figure out [Ryan Kesler's] situation right now'

June 13, 4:27 PM

During an appearance on Vancouver sports radio station The Team 1040 on Friday afternoon, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning addressed the status of malcontent center Ryan Kesler, who has requested a trade out of Vancouver according to multiple reports.

"We're trying to figure out Ryan's situation right now," Benning said, adding that he's in daily communication with Kesler's Denver-based agent Kurt Overhardt. "Beyond that, I don't have much more."

Though Benning essentially declined comment, his statement speaks volumes. One can strongly imply that "we're trying to figure out Ryan's situation right now" likely means that the Cancuks are trying to work out an agreeable deal with a team that the former Selke winner, whose $5 million per season contract includes a full no-trade clause, is willing to be traded to.

It was reported around the NHL trade deadline that Kesler was willing to be traded to one of six teams, and TSN's Darren Dreger has suggested that the Philadelphia Flyers should be added to that group.

June 7, 3:55 PM

Friedman: Canucks will keep Kesler on the team if the value isn't there on the trade market

June 7, 3:55 PM

It was widely reported on Friday night that Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler met with team officials this week and remains very much disgruntled. The two-way ace and U.S. Olympian would prefer a trade to a contending team, something he reiterated to Canucks brass this week.

Discussing Kesler's availability in his weekly 30 Thoughts column on Saturday, CBC's Elliotte Friedman suggests that if the market for Kesler isn't up to snuff this summer, the team is probably willing to go into next season with the career Canuck on the roster:

The final question is: are the Canucks willing to start 2014-15 with Kesler on the roster? I think they'd prefer to make a trade, but will keep him if they don't like what's out there. That said, my guess is someone steps up.

A disgruntled Canucks star going through a very public, very drawn out trade process that stretches into a subsequent season? Someone should probably go check for a glitch in the Matrix, because this is giving us a serious sense of déjà vu.

June 7, 9:47 AM

Report: After meeting with new Canucks management, Kesler still wants to be traded

June 7, 9:47 AM

Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler, a former 40-goal scorer and Selke winner, is back on the trade block according to multiple reports.

Kesler reportedly requested a trade ahead of the NHL trade deadline this past February, reports that the U.S. Olympian unconvincingly denied at the time. Ultimately he remained with the team. 

After the Canucks shuffled their front office structure - firing Mike Gillis, and hiring Trevor Linden and Jim Benning - new Canucks management made noise suggesting they would do their utmost to keep Kesler in the fold. Kesler has spent the past week in Vancouver, reportedly meeting with team captain Henrik Sedin and with new general manager Benning; but as multiple reports would have it, he appears to be unmoved.

"Ryan Kesler hasn't changed his mind," TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Friday. "He wants a fresh start and to move on from Vancouver; he met with Benning earlier this week to talk about that."

That report was echoed and elaborated on by Vancouver Province beat writer Jason Botchford during an appearance on the Scott Rintoul show late Friday night:

The word out of [Kesler's camp] is that, y'know, Benning's a great guy, but he's inherited a mess, and they don't think this roster has enough skill to win soon and they want to win. So Ryan Kesler goes back on the trade block, and we go through all of this again. ....

Both his side and the Canucks side when they met - Benning, [Kesler's agent Kurt Overhardt], and Kesler - they agreed that they weren't going to say anything - they were going to shut their mouths, and let this play out - because they don't want this big hullabaloo and the circus that encompassed Roberto Luongo, and some of the things that we've seen around Vancouver.

Kesler has two-years remaining on his contract, which carries an annual cap-hit of $5 million and includes a full no-trade clause per capgeek.com. He's reportedly willing to move to one of six possible teams, only two of whom - Anaheim, and Pittsburgh - had serious interest at the NHL trade deadline. That list could expand, presumably, depending on how badly Kesler wants out of Vancouver.

TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports that Vancouver's asking price "remains high," and that the club wants a player who can help now in addition to some high-end futures. Bob McKenzie, meanwhile, has suggested that Kesler's availability could limit Senators captain Jason Spezza's market value

June 3, 7:13 PM

Canucks GM on appeasing disgruntled Kesler: 'We're going to figure out a solution'

June 3, 7:13 PM

How the Vancouver Canucks' new management team will handle Ryan Kesler, the club's disgruntled leading scorer who reportedly requested a trade last season, is the single biggest question facing the organization this summer. For a club that has a head coaching vacancy still to fill, owns the No. 6 overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry draft, and has two untested goaltenders on the roster; that's saying something.

To keep Kesler, or to trade him, is a uniquely existential question for the club, even if the decision is - in part - Kesler's to make. It's a decision that promises to provide a glimpse at the core of what new team president Trevor Linden and new general manager Jim Benning see as their primary goal: playoff revenue, or icing a serious Stanley Cup contender.

At his introductory press conference Benning suggested that he'd do everything within his power to retain Kesler's services. Last week he suggested that the organization and Kesler's agent Kurt Overhardt were "still going back and forth" on the former Selke-winner's future.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, in perhaps the strongest indication yet that the club would prefer to keep the U.S. Olympian, Benning told fans that, "We're going to figure out a solution that keeps him happy and us happy." Benning also said that he'd had "preliminary conversations" with Kesler, who is in Vancouver at the moment, according to the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford. 

This situation is still probably up in the air, but the team's posture would suggest that their chips are in the middle of the table: they want Kesler in the fold next season. The organization has made season ticket renewals fully refundable through the first week of July, and it would seem an enormous business risk to make this much noise about patching things up with Kesler, only to deal him at, or ahead of, the NHL Entry Draft.

May 26, 10:09 AM

New Canucks management hopes to change Ryan Kesler's mind about potential trade

May 26, 10:09 AM

Selke-winning Vancouver Canucks centerman Ryan Kesler was the biggest-ticket item at the 2014 NHL trade deadline, though he ultimately didn't move. It's widely believed, in fact, that the Canucks' decision not to trade the star shutdown center froze the market almost entirely.

Vancouver renovated its front office structure since then: general manager Mike Gillis was firedTrevor Linden was hired as president, and Linden officially unveiled Jim Benning as the club's 11th general manager on Friday. With new management comes a new direction, and the team now seems eager to retain the services of the 29-year-old U.S. Olympian.

"I love the way Ryan Kesler plays, he plays hard, he competes hard, he's a big bodied guy, he plays the way you win with," Benning told fans during a Q&A prior to his introductory press conference. "But I haven't met Ryan Kesler yet, I haven't had a chance to talk to him, so I don't know what his thoughts are. If it's up to me I'd like to try and keep him."

While Benning has yet to meet with Kesler, Linden has - twice in fact. Linden met with the disgruntled center and his agent once after being hired, and had a follow up tete-a-tete with just Kesler shortly thereafter, according to CBC's Elliotte Friedman.

Friedman spoke with Kesler's Denver-based agent Kurt Overhardt for his weekly "30 Thoughts" column, and while Overhardt isn't quoted directly in the piece, we can safely presume that much of what Friedman wrote is informed by Kesler's agent himself:

Here's what Overhardt would not address: What it would take to change Kesler's mind. Both Linden and Benning talk about the Canucks retooling on the fly, and, from what a couple sources say about Kesler, that's a critical part of the discussion. He's suffered some pretty painful losses in his career (2010 Olympics, 2011 Stanley Cup, 2014 Olympics) and badly wants to win. The agent also wouldn't talk about Kesler's list of teams (Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay). It is believed, however, that group may change.

Kesler reportedly wasn't interested in being moved to the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline. The two-way ace has two seasons and $10 million in salary remaining on his contract, which includes a full no-trade clause. Obviously if he wants to move on, and is willing to be more flexible about where he's dealt, that'll help the Canucks maximize a potential return.