Imagine a team with two Selke Trophy winners up front and a Norris Trophy winner on the blue line. Because that’s what the Chicago Blackhawks would be if they traded for Ryan Kesler.
In addition to Kesler, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith, the ‘Hawks would boast Marian Hossa, one of the best two-way wingers in the NHL, and Patrick Kane, one of the most gifted forwards in the game. Also, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook, each good enough to win gold for Canada at the Olympics.
So…that would be a pretty good team.
Adding Kesler would also address one of the few weak spots on Chicago’s roster, the much-discussed second-line center hole that may have ultimately been the difference between losing to and beating the Los Angeles Kings in this year’s Western Conference finals.
Chicago is also one of the few teams to which Kesler is reportedly willing to be traded. The 29-year-old wants to win, and you can’t blame him, having suffered painful losses in both the 2010 Olympic gold-medal game and Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, i.e. the two biggest games a hockey player can play.
And for the Canucks, despite their previous heated rivalry with the ‘Hawks, trading him to Chicago may be more palatable than sending him to Anaheim, a division rival.
Kesler has two years left on his contract, with a very attractive cap hit of just $5 million. Granted, the ‘Hawks might have to shed some salary to fit him in. (Could they move Bryan Bickell? Johnny Oduya? Would they move Nick Leddy?) But if Stan Bowman really wants Kesler, one would think he could manufacture a way.
Which begs the big question: what could the ‘Hawks send the Canucks in return? Would Bowman part with a youngster like Brandon Saad? Because that’s the type of significant return Vancouver’s new general manager, Jim Benning, will be seeking. Benning just cannot afford to waste Kesler. And he shouldn’t have to.