Ryan Kesler has been traded to Anaheim. The 29-year-old former Selke Trophy winner will go from the Vancouver Canucks to the Ducks, in return for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa, and Anaheim’s first-round pick (24th overall) in today’s draft.
The teams will also swap third-round picks, with Vancouver getting the 85th overall pick this year and Anaheim receiving Vancouver’s third-rounder next year.
Kesler had 25 goals and 18 assists in 2013-14. His best scoring season came in 2010-11, when he had 41 goals. His contract is attractive, with a cap hit of $5 million for two more years, before he can become an unrestricted free agent. If there’s a concern for the Ducks, it’s his lengthy injury log. But with Ryan Getzlaf as 1C and Kesler as 2C, Anaheim can now match the Los Angeles Kings down the middle. The move also leaves the Chicago Blackhawks still searching for a 2C.
For Vancouver, the return for Kesler is perhaps not what the team’s fans had hoped for. Bonino, 26, is younger and scored 22 times last season. He also has a good contract, with three years remaining at a cap hit of $1.9 million. But his overall body of work does not compare with Kesler’s. In 189 NHL games, Bonino has 33 goals and 49 assists. He hasn’t been a workhorse like Kesler, and he hasn’t played against the opponent’s top players like Kesler has.
Sbisa, meanwhile, played 30 games for the Ducks last season, scoring once with five assists. The 24-year-old missed time with both an ankle injury and hand injury. His cap hit is $2.175 million in 2014-15, before he can become a restricted free agent next summer.
In defense of Canucks general manager Jim Benning, he had limited teams with which to deal. Kesler has a no-trade clause and wanted to go to a Stanley Cup contender, with Anaheim and Chicago reportedly the top two potential destinations. And the Blackhawks were always going to be loathe to give up either Brandon Saad or Teuvo Teravainen.
“This trade reinforces our goal to add youth, support our core players and develop draft picks who will contribute to the future success of our team,” said Benning in a release. “Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa are talented players who immediately bring youth and skill to our roster. An additional first- and third-round pick gives us the opportunity to add two strong players to our system.”
Similarly, Vancouver’s president of hockey ops, Trevor Linden, had this to say in May: “When I see playoff teams that are successful, I see teams that have some depth, teams that can roll four lines out. I like the people we have in [our] core positions, but they need support from the bottom. There’s a gap between the core players and what’s coming from below them. There hasn’t been a real push from the bottom and that’s created issues.”