For reasons that have been disputed, the Vancouver Canucks are listening to offers for Ryan Kesler. The 29-year-old center appears to be garnering plenty of interest.
Louis Jean of TVA Sports provided a reasonable explanation as to why the Canucks would be shopping one of their stars:
Sources say Ryan Kesler requested a trade some time ago & wants out of Vcr. Told #Canucks don't want to trade him but may not have a choice.— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) February 27, 2014
Of course, as Jean reported the following day, Kesler denied making the request.
It is hard to believe that Kesler was being forthright with that statement. What else is he going to say?
In case a deal is not done, Kesler wouldn't want to return to teammates and a fanbase he was openly politicking to get away from.
At any rate, the reason why the Canucks are shopping Kesler is of little consequence. The reality is that if the Canucks get the right offer, Kesler will be on the move. And with all the interest he is garnering, there is a good chance that happens.
While reporting of the Toronto Maple Leafs' interest in Kesler, TSN's Darren Dreger reports that the Canucks are not just going to hand him over for any offer. They need something significant:
Like many teams, Leafs called Canucks with interest in Kesler. Understandably, Van is still looking for mammoth return.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 3, 2014
The interest in Kesler, who has spent all 10 of his NHL seasons with the Canucks, is not surprising.
At 6'2" and just over 200 pounds, Kesler brings solid size and physicality. In 62 games this season, he has 21 goals and 18 assists.
Other than last season, when he was able to play in just 17 games, Kesler has now notched at least 21 goals in every season since 2007-08.
Chris Peters of CBS Sports went as far as to say that Kesler is the "trade deadline's most intriguing chip."
Where will Kesler be playing after the deadline?
This is not just because of his talent on the ice. Kesler's contract situation makes him a desirable target.
According to Peters, Kesler has two years left on his contract, and they come with just a $5 million cap figure.
Now, that contract also means that if the Canucks don't get an offer they feel benefits them, they have no reason to feel forced into a trade.
If he is moved, however, the two most likely destinations appear to be with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Kesler is the top target of the Penguins. Meanwhile, Phily.com passed along that the Flyers have put together a "substantial" effort to acquire him:
Of course, interest in Kesler is not limited to those two teams. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports that the New York Rangers are keeping tabs on Kesler:
While the Rangers' priority is obviously to resolve Callahan situation either way, am told they are also monitoring Ryan Kesler situation...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 4, 2014
The Canucks are in a good position here. They can now just sit back and egg on a bidding war. If they get good enough value, they can deal him. If not, they can hold onto him and continue make a push for the postseason.