Report: Kesler only wants to be traded to Penguins or ‘Hawks (Updated)

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Ryan Kesler has requested a trade, but the 29-year-old center doesn’t want to go just anywhere.

Kesler, who has a no-trade clause, apparently wants the Vancouver Canucks to trade him to Pittsburgh or Chicago, according to the Ottawa Sun. Assuming the report is accurate (it was previously reported that Kesler has given Vancouver a list of six teams to which he’s willing to be traded), it wouldn’t be too hard to see why Kesler would want to go to either team, given the caliber of players he would be able to share the ice with. Still, it’s not a given that either squad would be willing to make a serious effort to get him.

Based on the their current roster, the Penguins seem the less likely destination out of the two. They already have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and restricted free agent Brandon Sutter as their top three centers. They could shift Malkin to the right wing, but the bigger issue is Kesler’s $5 million annual cap hit. Is it really worth it for Pittsburgh to take on that kind of salary to add to an area of strength, when it already has depth issues due to the top-heavy nature of its cap allocations?

Chicago is a bit of a different case, given that it does need a second-line center after parting ways with Michal Handzus. Andrew Shaw might fill that void, but Kesler would be a safer bet and it’d allow Shaw to headline Chicago’s third line.

That being said, the salary cap is an issue with the Blackhawks too, especially seeing as they need to account for the likelihood that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will get meaningful raises starting in 2015-16. Unless Vancouver is inclined to retain some of Kesler’s cap hit, that might ultimately keep him out of Chicago.

And of course, that’s just examining whether or not Kesler would fit into Chicago or Pittsburgh’s plans. It glossed over the issue of what Vancouver would want in return and factoring in that makes a move to Chicago or Pittsburgh more difficult to pull off.

Update: Kesler is also willing to go to Anaheim, according to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. The Ducks are in a pretty good position right now from a cap perspective, so they wouldn’t have that complication to deal with.