The Vancouver Canucks snapped their seven-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Blues. The victory was overshadowed, however, by a report from TVASports’ Louis Jean citing sources claiming Canucks center Ryan Kesler requested a trade at the start of the season.
That prompted a stern denial from Kesler’s agent Kurt Overhardt, who called the reports “b.s.” Canucks GM Mike Gillis refused to comment, except to say the reports came out of Russia and he knew nothing about them.. Kesler subsequently spoke to the media, calling the report “completely false.” He’s currently sidelined with a hand injury suffered during the Sochi Olympics.
Vancouver Province columnist Jason Botchford feels it’s only a matter of time until Kesler is traded, believing the Canucks will seek a young center as part of the return. His colleague Tony Gallagher suggests such a move might be the start of several changes that, if done properly, could quickly remake the club’s image.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie claims Gillis isn’t aggressively shopping Kesler, but could listen to offers. He points out Kesler must agree to waive his no-trade clause before a deal can occur. McKenzie wondered if Kesler would be prepared to return to Ohio (where he played his college hockey) for the Columbus Blue Jackets, speculating about the Jackets offering young center Ryan Johansen. He also wondered if New York Rangers would give up Derek Stepan or someone similar.
The Jackets could be interested, but they won’t part with a blossoming star like Johansen. And Kesler might not be keen on reuniting with former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault in New York. Botchford noted Vigneault used to criticize Kesler for not using his wingers enough and once suggested a nagging shoulder injury wasn’t responsible for Kesler’s declining production.
If Kesler is to be dealt, such a move might come in the off-season when teams have more cap space and willingness to pursue players of his caliber.
Some quick updates on other players who could be dealt by Wednesday’s trade deadline:
– The New York Islanders could wait until deadline day to move left winger Thomas Vanek and defenseman Andrew MacDonald in order to maximize their trade value. It’s believed the Islanders seek a first-round pick for MacDonald. The Boston Bruins have interest, but aren’t willing to part with a first-rounder. The Detroit Red Wings are also believed to be looking at MacDonald. GM Ken Holland says he’d like to add a defenseman, but won’t overpay for a playoff rental.
– Toronto Maple Leafs center Dave Bolland reportedly seeks an eight-year, $40-million contract extension. It’s understandable why he wants that much, as the Leafs signed David Clarkson last summer to a seven-year, $36.8-million deal. Bolland recently suffered a setback in his recovery from ankle tendon surgery, which could hamper any attempt to move him at the deadline.
– The Ottawa Senators remain in the market for a top-six winger. They reportedly have interest in St. Louis Blues’ winger Chris Stewart. He’s also linked to the New York Rangers.
– Washington Capitals winger Martin Erat still prefers to be traded. GM George McPhee said he’ll do what he can to accommodate Erat. Given his declining production and $4.5-million annual cap hit through next season, McPhee will have a tough time finding a team willing to acquire him.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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