PHILADELPHIA — Canucks general manager Jim Benning said Thursday that he wasn’t worried about the Ryan Kesler situation turning into another Roberto Luongo soap opera in Vancouver. He said he was more than willing to keep Kesler, as opposed to trading him for less than fair value.
On Friday, though, Benning traded Kesler to Anaheim, partly because he “didn’t want this to fester.”
With Kesler unhappy playing for a Canucks team he felt was no longer a Stanley Cup contender, Benning confirmed that the player had requested a trade, to either Anaheim or Chicago.
“His wish was to go to a team that he felt has a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” said Benning. “We asked him for more teams over the course of the last three weeks and he was pretty steadfast on going to one of these two teams.”
Benning added that Kesler “felt he needed a fresh start and, quite frankly, we don’t want somebody that doesn’t want to be here. … We would have liked to keep him, but his mind was made up so we did the best we could in the situation.”
The best the Canucks could do was get Nick Bonino (a “second-line center iceman” who can help replace Kesler’s goal-scoring, according to Benning) and Luca Sbisa (a “guy that we feel can grow into a top four defenseman”), plus the 24th overall pick in today’s draft.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a rebuild,” said Benning. “We acquired players that we thought are going to have an impact on us winning next year. We got Bonino, we feel Sbisa is going to develop into a real good defenseman for us, Dorsett is going to help us as a good penalty killer. We’ve been talking about bringing in some good energy guys that are going to work hard and compete hard physically and he’s going to do that for us. So that’s kind of why we did it, to help our team.
“If it was going to be a rebuild then maybe we wouldn’t have tried to fight so hard to get players that can come in and help our team win next year.”