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.