Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning insisted earlier on Thursday that he’s comfortable with the idea of keeping Ryan Kesler in the fold if the right move isn’t available, echoing his predecessor’s stance. If nothing else, it sounds like the Canucks will have plenty of proposals to leaf through during what could be a crucial couple of days.
Of course, Kesler’s no-trade clause could make the number of suitors largely irrelevant, at least beyond the few he’s reportedly interested in working with. (TSN’s Darren Dreger backs up the belief that his list remains small.)
Either way, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Kesler trade talk has only been heating up during the last 24 hours.
More than a few people believe that the St. Louis Blues rank among the teams angling for the 29-year-old center, as it’s plausible that they re-signed Patrik Berglund merely to make him an easier asset to trade.
There’s talk that the Anaheim Ducks are on Kesler’s (very) short list of palatable destinations, but the asking price might be a little too rich for reigning GM of the Year Bob Murray’s taste:
Again, the increased interest as the 2014 NHL Draft approaches might do little except possibly give Benning a little more leverage:
Much like the NBA’s own draft this week, one thing remains clear: this could be an exciting and wild time even before the first selection is made in Philadelphia.
More on Keslermania
Benning says he’ll stand his ground
Canucks say there’s no timetable for a move
Envisioning a Blackhawks team with the U.S.-born center
He might only be willing to join Chicago, Anaheim or Pittsburgh
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)