Report: Pittsburgh ‘pitched’ Vancouver on Kesler deal

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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.