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

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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