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Report: Pittsburgh ‘pitched’ Vancouver on Kesler deal

Feb 28, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT

Ryan Kesler AP

The Penguins inquired about trading for Vancouver center Ryan Kesler prior to the Olympic break, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The proposed “pitch” included center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Derrick Pouliot — the eighth overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — according to the Trib’s Rob Rossi.

This package was constructed prior to the Pens learning about Kris Letang’s stroke, Rossi reports. It’s also worth noting Pouliot was one of the pieces acquired by Pens GM Ray Shero in dealing Jordan Staal to Carolina — Staal being one of the “big three” centers Pittsburgh utilized en route to the 2009 Stanley Cup, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Kesler has been the subject of intense rumor over the last few days, after TVA’s Louis Jean broke news that the 29-year-old had asked the Canucks to move him. Both Kesler and his agent have refuted the report but, interestingly enough, Vancouver GM Mike Gillis played coy as to whether the report was accurate or not.

Pittsburgh isn’t the only team believed to be in the Kesler sweepstakes. The Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers are all interested in his services, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos and the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch. It’s believed the Canucks are demanding a roster player, a young prospect and a first-round pick in return.

That’s a steep asking price, though Kesler might command it given his combination of offensive talent and physical play. He’s also solid enough on the draw.

Kesler comes with a $5 million annual cap hit through the 2015-16 campaign. He also has a no-trade clause, so this matter isn’t entirely beyond his control.


  1. jpdoc26 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    I don’t really want to give up Pouliot especially with Letang’s career in the balance. Kesler would be awesome but I think trading Despres for a mid-tier top 6 winger (Hemsky, Boyes) is a type of move they should make at this point.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      i think it will be boyes. veteran like guerin, proven scorer. crosby probably talked to tavares about playing with him while at the olympics and the pens sent scouts to florida last night where he tied the game twice and was +2 in a 5-4 loss against the caps…

    • elvispocomo - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Isn’t Letang on the right side? And aren’t pretty much all their D prospects including Pouliot on the left (Maata, Despres, Dumoulin, Harrington as well)? How does keeping those players at that level of redundancy help cover for Letang?

      • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        the right hand is important for the powerplay…lefties play the right side no problem. niskanen is the right hand shot on the pp right now over maatta who is left.

      • elvispocomo - Mar 2, 2014 at 12:07 AM

        Well, that sort of answers the question. Are any of the young left handers I mentioned comfortable playing the right side, or is there any of the other current D on the roster capable of that?

    • lindbergh9 - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:21 PM

      Yeah Despres is expendable but I love how Sutter plays & his attitude. Sure would like to keep him. It does look like Letang will be lost for the season & we know Dupuis already is. Just have to trust Shero the magician on this 1.

      • blastfurnaceknows - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        No way. Shero used his “pass” last year when he made things worse by tampering with the roster. You can “trust” him all you want, but his “magician” status has been revoked in most parts. Too much front-end talent to have only one Cup and Shero deserves much of the blame for not filling out the roster in a more efficient manner.

    • c9castine - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:35 AM

      dude. this is a steep price. i don’t know how i feel about that.

      sutter, i know he doesn’t score like Keslar does but man is he smart and skilled.

      i will say this. i know Pouliot’s pedigree is high. But there is a reason why Maatta made the big club before he did. Defensive ability, and intangibles like maturity and leadership.

      i will also say this. forget Hemsky and Boyes. seriously. not worth it. not worth giving up guy like Sutter, not worth bringing onto the team cause neither one will ever play Penguin hockey.

      if sutter started putting in the 50-60 points that he is capable of scoring, this is no issue. then again, tough to fault the guy when he has had 15 different wingers this year none of which are really qualified to play with him.

  2. stepanup - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Let me take this one for you MG…No. I will not move my Selke candidate center for your #3 center, and a highly drafted defenseman whom I have never seen play.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      are you saying you’ve never seen pouliot play? because i’m very sure gillies and just about every other gm in north america has. i’m glad this deal hasnt happened – kesler would be a 3rd center on the team, would be the jordan staal situation all over again regarding competition for minutes. why would he waive his clause to go where he’d be 3rd fiddle anyway?

      • storminator16 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        Yeah, I think if I would Gillis I’d take anything that resembles that and go with it. He probably won’t get anything better.

      • elvispocomo - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Gillis has surely at least heard reports on his play, since the Canucks already have Anton Cederhom playing with the Winterhawks and it’s not like Portland is that far away.

        It is a good question where the Pens think Kesler would fit though. Would they move Malkin to the wing and play Kesler between him and Neal? I agree it doesn’t work with him coming in only for a 3C role.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      If Gilles hasn’t seen Pouliot, a teenage puck moving defenseman who was a top 10 pick in the draft in 2012 and who has been drawing rave reviews in Portland at the World Junior, then he should probably starting packing up his desk now.

      • hosewater2 - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        I have seen him play alot with the Winterhawks. He is a good offensive defenseman, but really can’t engage physically even at the WHL level.

      • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        neither can karlsson and they are about the same size. if he’s not counted on for it like karlsson isnt i wouldnt necessarily knock a 19yr old for it yet. he looks light though, he needs to put on some weight and strength, hence one of the reasons he’s still in juniors. the western hockey league has a reputation for producing tough players, he seems to be doing just fine there as he is though.

  3. newjerseydevilsfanpuckcollection - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    So basically this would be almost like a 3 way trade where it would be Kessler to Jordan Stall in the end.

    If Shero could pull this off it would be amazing for his resume.

    I think Shero is the best GM right now for doing deal to being in pieces at the deadline late in the season. Aside from the Murray trade all have improved this team tremendously for playoff runs, or the team in general. I’m a Devils fan and hate the things he get away with at times.

    Below are some of his higlights:

    26-Feb-08 Acquired right wing Marián Hossa and left wing Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers for centers Erik Christensen and Angelo Esposito, right wing Colby Armstrong and a 2008 first-round pick; acquired defenseman Hal Gill from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2008 second-round pick and a 2009 fifth-round pick

    26-Feb-09 Acquired left wings Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Ryan Whitney.

    04-Mar-09 Claimed right wing Craig Adams off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks; acquired right winger Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders for a conditional draft pick

    21-Feb-11 Acquired left wing James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars for defenseman Alex Goligoski.

    24-Feb-11 Acquired right wing Alexei Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators for a conditional 7th round draft pick.

    25-Mar-13 Acquired defenseman Douglas Murray (ice hockey) from the San Jose Sharks for a second round pick in 2013 and a second round pick in 2014.

    27-Mar-13 Acquired right wing Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames in exchange for the Penguins’ first-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft, and the rights to unsigned draft choices Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      cant question his abilities, does make you wonder how he gets away with it huh?

      • newjerseydevilsfanpuckcollection - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        Great scouting by finding the diamonds in the rough (Niskanen, Neal, Kunitz etc…)

        Plus it helps other players take pay cuts when they have the opportunity to play with two of the best in the NHL (Crosby & Malkin)

    • jrcanuck - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      N.Jfan, You are absolutely right about Shero being a great GM; but wrong about this trade, as per my comment below. Shero would never make this trade.

  4. snipedanglecelly13 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I think the wings should make a move for kesler, but the wings rarely make trade deadline moves. And idk who we would give up for him

  5. madmax80 - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    I hope the Pens get him. I love the look of disappointment on his face when the B’s knock his team out of the playoffs. Haven’t seen it since 2011.

    Kinda reminds me of Cindy and Geno last year. . . . . .

    • hockey412 - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      I hope it stays etched in your memory – because if Chara doesn’t remember how to skate like he actually gives a damn, you may never see it again. Nice loss to Buffalo.

    • theageofquarrel - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:27 PM


  6. rippit2000 - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    I actually thought this might have a grain of truth to it until I saw it was Rob Rossi who reported it.

  7. jrcanuck - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    First of all, Rob Rossi of the Trib has not mentioned this tumour on the Tribs online Penguins page.
    That would be an awful trade for the Penguins. Although Kesler is a gritty winger who can score goals, he is 29, which is the age that usually indicates the beginning of the decline for forwards, at least statistically. Yes, he scores more goals than Sutter (20 to 10); however Sutter is only 25 & very valuable defensively. Kesler is a -10 this year & he missed a lot of games last year due to injury. He is not as consistent or as effective a player as he used to be, although I still have an awful lot of respect for his game.
    However the main reason for this deal never happening is Pouliot. He is an overall 8th overall 1st round pick. He is a fantastic fluid skater, puck handler & has a great shot. He has poise and he has terrific hockey sense. If anyone watched the world Junior championships in 2013, he was possibly the best player of the whole tournament. He is a potential All-star, who is the real deal. He will be the Penguins future for transitioning the puck out of the a Pens zone, along with Maatta, especially with Letang’s future now being in question.
    I like Despres; but if you replaced Pouliot’s name with Depres, Orpik, Dumoulin or Bortuzzo, I might believe it. I would be absolutely shocked & disappointed if Shero traded Pouliot.

  8. runhigh24 - Feb 28, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Kesler would be a great fit for the Pens, or any other team for that matter, but swapping him in for Sutter won’t fix the Penguins lack of bottom six wingers. That’s one area they need to upgrade heading into the playoffs.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      i dont know if they necessarily need to go after a bottom six winger as much as they need to get a top 6 one so that the guys that have been filling in at that role can filter down to their rightful spots on the 3rd line. theyve got plenty of bottom six guys, problem is they are hurt and/or rotating in and out of the spot vacated by dupuis. bennett has been gone since mid nov and was expected to miss 3-4 months…he should be ready soon i would think, you add another wing and you have guys where they should be. guys like kobasew, pyatt shouldnt have a sweater right now and gibbons would be just fine on the 3rd line with bennett and sutter. my ideal 4th line for the playoffs is glass vitale and adams.

      • jrcanuck - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        I agree jpelle82; if you got a top scoring power winger for Crosby, then Bennett would move to the 3rd line (and Dupuis too next year) and current 3rd liners can be shuffled to the 4th line if & when appropriate. However, this should not be accomplished by trading away a great future All-Star like Pouliot.

  9. nogoodtomedead - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Does Pitt not have to follow the NHL salary cap rules or something? Blows my mind how a team with such huge contracts is always involved in the bidding of any notable player.

    • runhigh24 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      you’re welcome to go over to capgeek and figure out how the cap works.

      • theageofquarrel - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        Why on earth would he do that? It’s easier to log on and whine about something related to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

      • nogoodtomedead - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        Wow- was just an observation that I never seem to hear about Pittsburgh having cap difficulties. I don’t have anything against Pitt- sorry if the Pittsburgh fans are feeling attacked all the time. And why am I not on capgeek? Because I have a job, and a family, and a life- so I don’t spend a whole lot of time playing fantasy GM and worrying about cap figures for teams that don’t concern me. Settle down boys.

    • hockey412 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      Pittsburgh only has a couple of big contracts, and pay less for bottom 6 forwards or bottom 2/3 defenseman than many teams. It’s one way to go – the other is to even out the talent level from 1st line to 4th line on offense and roll four lines. Either way you go, yes, you have to follow cap rules. But when you trade for a player this late in the year, you are only absorbing a portion of their cap, not the whole thing.

      Shero is involved, yes, but we’re talking about giving up assets to gain assets. He’s not throwing money around any more than any other team does. He’s just involved.

    • c9castine - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      look up the numbers we have a lot less large contracts than many other teams.

      we have a couple guys who make big money, a few guys who make solid mid level money, and a lot of guys who make next to nothing. Shero rounds out his roster by brining in veteran free agents looking for a shot with another team and young AHL call ups.

      keep in mind the adjectives used to describe their salaries are relative to the NHL, not real life.

  10. penguins87and71 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    If a GM can pull this off then it’s Ray Shero. I’m not to worried about the Letang situation at worst he will be back at the beginning of next year. I wouldn’t mind going back to the 3 center dominance. I think it’s more likely that the Penguins will probably go after someone like a Hemsky then a Boyes. I could defiantly see a deal go down between the Canucks and Penguins on draft day. I would trade Sutter, Poliout, and a 1st round pick for Kessler.

    • jrcanuck - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Wow! Kesler at 29 years of age, is not even close to being worth Pouliot, Sutter & a 1st pick! Once you see Pouliot in a Pens jersey, you would not even trade him straight up for Kesler. This kid is a very high end talent. Shero, quite frankly, will not even think twice about making this trade.

  11. thos_prattt - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    If Pomenville gets four pieces at last year’s trade deadline, I think Sutter and Pouliot is a start for Kesler.Add a 2015 1st rounder and a 2014 or 2015 2nd rounder, or similar and you get into the ballpark.

    Maybe the Canucks could add Edler to the deal and really ask for the moon.

  12. tdrusher225 - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    Seriously, what’s wrong with Pittsburgh? Shero needs to learn his lesson from last year and realize he’s wasting his time constantly trying to upgrade his forward group that is already the best in the NHL(arguably). What you’re not happy with Sutter as your 3rd line center so you want to bring in a Selke winner making $5 million to take his spot? That’s what’s going to put the Penguins over the top? This is ridiculous. Maybe you should allow your team to develop some chemistry rather than making any trade imaginable.

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