Kesler sweepstakes is only heating up

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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