Rumor Roundup: Will Kesler’s injury stop the Canucks from trading him?

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Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler is expected to be a trade candidate this summer, but his recent knee injury could affect his value. Kesler sprained his right knee last Wednesday following a collision with Winnipeg Jets’ forward Jim Slater. Canucks coach John Tortorella expects Kesler will be sidelined “at least a couple of weeks.”

The Globe & Mail’s David Ebner suggests Kesler’s injury could be a big blow for the Canucks’ hopes of getting a significant return. Kesler has also undergone hip and shoulder surgeries, as well as missing 19 games last season with a broken right foot.

Kesler, one NHL’s best two-way centers, plays with a rugged style. That style, however, is exacting a physical toll. Ebner believes if teams weren’t willing to give up a lot for a healthy Kesler at the trade deadline, they’ll be less inclined to do so at the draft. By that point Kesler will also be two months shy of his 30th birthday.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman claims Kesler was believed willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. Of those, only the Ducks and Penguins were in the bidding.

It’s thought the Penguins made the best offer. They reportedly pitched a package of center Brandon Sutter, their first- and third-round picks in 2014, plus the choice of blueline prospects Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin. Despite Kesler’s age and injury history, Penguins GM Ray Shero could still pursue him in the off-season. It remains to be seen if their recent offer remains on the table or if Shero is prepared to sweeten the pot.

WILL HEMSKY REMAIN IN OTTAWA?
The Ottawa Senators’ acquisition of Ales Hemsky at the trade deadline has paid off so far. Playing on center Jason Spezza’s line, the 30-year-old right winger collected seven points (six of them assists) in his first five games as a Senator.

Hemsky is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan reports that Senators management will closely watch the winger’s performance over the remainder of the season to determine if he’s worth retaining. If Hemsky keeps playing well with Spezza, it’s a good bet the Senators will try to re-sign him.

For now Hemsky is non-committal about his future, telling Brennan his focus is on helping the Senators make the playoffs. Re-signing him could be expensive, as he’s currently sports a cap hit of $5 million.

IS YAKUPOV AVAILABLE?
Nail Yakupov’s poor performance continues to fuel speculation this season will be his last with the Edmonton Oilers. The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples notes TSN’s Darren Dreger claims the “word is out that Yakupov is available” and the Oilers have tried to move him several times.

Dreger feels Yakupov’s lack of commitment would adversely affect his market value. Staples believes it makes little sense to move the 20-year-old for a poor return.

While Yakupov regressed this season it would be premature to give up on the 2012 first overall pick. He’s still young and has plenty of time to mature into a skilled scoring winger. Unless the Oilers receive a significant offer, it’s best to remain patient and give Yakupov time to develop.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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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