Canucks at a crossroads, and that Kesler trade could be a make-or-break moment in relationship with fans
The onetime golden boy has given GM Mike Gillis a get-out-of-jail-free card by either asking for a trade or indicating he’s receptive to the idea. True, it’s never good news when one of your core players is looking for a way out — especially after the Luongo-Schneider mess, the Cody Hodgson affair and assorted other miscalculations which blot Gillis’s resumé. But take a step back, get out the wide-angle lens and consider the possibilities.
The troubling news for the faithful is Gillis seems intent on hitting a home run with Kesler. That means the proverbial roster player, prospect, first-round draft pick package which the team was seeking for Luongo, and we all know how that turned out. It doesn’t take a leap in logic to imagine the same script — as the noble Lui suggested — playing out with Kesler, and another botched trade would be a massive blow to this organization’s credibility.
But there’s also a slightly different feel about the market conditions this time around. Because the Eastern Conference is a study in mediocrity, virtually every team in a playoff spot can entertain visions of a long playoff run. Kesler, no matter what else he is, could be a difference-maker to those teams and, unlike Luongo, his contract isn’t a deal-breaker.
Of the suitors, Pittsburgh has the look of a potential match. They have the young centre the Canucks would need coming back in Brandon Sutter. They have prospects — hello, Derrick Pouliot. It’s also believed GM Ray Shero is seeking a return to the three-centre configuration (Sidney Crosby, Geno Malkin, Jordan Staal) they employed in their Stanley Cup years. Kesler will be asked to accept a lesser role, and let’s just say he’s a tad sensitive about these things. But, in this case, the positives would greatly outweigh the negatives.