Ryan Kesler

Benning not worried that Kesler situation will be Luongo all over again


PHILADELPHIA — Jim Benning isn’t worried about creating another patented Canucks soap opera. However, what Vancouver’s new general manager said Thursday about the possibility of trading Ryan Kesler sure did sound similar to what Benning’s predecessor, Mike Gillis, said over and over and over aaaaaaaaand over about Roberto Luongo.

“We’re talking to teams, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do what makes sense for us and to try to help Ryan out,” said Benning. “If we don’t think we can get a fair deal for him, then we’re going to keep him and he’s a Vancouver Canuck. We’re happy to have him back, because he’s a great player.”

Benning added: “We’ve had communication with [Kesler] throughout the process. We’ve talked to the agent. We’ve told him [the situation]; he understands that. He’s a professional, and he understands that part of it.”

Now, granted, Kesler’s situation has some meaningful differences to the one that kept Luongo in Vancouver long after the goalie first requested he be traded. Most importantly, Kesler’s contract doesn’t “suck”; in fact, it’s extremely attractive, with a cap hit of just $5 million for two more years.

But if the Canucks are going to trade the former Selke Trophy recipient, they’re going to need something significant in return. Certainly, more significant than what the Panthers ultimately gave up for Luongo.

And with a remark that could be seen as both a criticism of his predecessor, who couldn’t conceive a Kesler trade in March, as well as a warning that a deal may not be forthcoming this offseason, Benning had this to say:

“When you’re dealing with a player of [Kesler’s] stature, at the trade deadline is when you can really do well, because those teams that feel they’re maybe one player away…could possibly give you more than you’d get in the middle of summer when they’re not playing hockey.”

It’s been reported that Chicago and Anaheim are the leading contenders to land Kesler.

Related: On the possibility of Kesler to Chicago

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.