Of course they do.
Ryan Kesler would be the answer to the Chicago Blackhawks’ long-time hole at the 2nd line center position. When it comes to centers, in the National Hockey League, you could do much worse than Kesler, who was rumored to have listed the Hawks along with the Pittsburgh Penguins as his desired trade destinations.
There’s a catch though.
The Vancouver Canucks are going to want a lot in exchange for Kesler. “A lot” likely means more than one established NHL player, from the Hawks’ much coveted depth. Since the Canucks are not quite ready to go into full rebuild mode, they want either NHL veterans or young up and coming NHL players(like Brandon Saad for example).
The Hawks aren’t known for trading away depth and making blockbuster trades like this and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. We know that the price for Kesler will be steep, but how big of an addition would Kesler actually be?
Well, that’s the million dollar question.
What Kesler would the Hawks be getting? Would it be the Kesler of 2008-2011 that put up between 59, 75. and 73 points in each of those 3 seasons respectfully, while playing Selke quality defense and not missing one single game. Or would they be getting the Kesler of 2012-2014 where he missed 65 games and saw his offensive output suffer, even while being on the ice.
This is not to say that Kesler has been bad, lately. It’s just that his health issues during the past 3 years have made it impossible to top his lofty performances of the 3 years prior to that. Regardless of which Kesler would be hypothetically headed to Chicago, he would be a welcome addition, no doubt. As long as he is able to stay healthy, which is a big “if”.
There’s also the matter of his cap hit. Kesler is due to make $5 million, in each of the next to seasons, which is a reasonable cap hit, for a player of his skill. However, the Hawks play close to the cap and will have to make room for Kesler, which would likely be taken care of when the Hawks send some of their roster to Vancouver.
So, if this trade were to happen, how much would it actually end up helping the Hawks. Adding Kesler would be great, yes. But adding Kesler and subtracting Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, or Brent Seabrook would almost neutralize the positive Kesler impact. Getting Kesler would cost the Hawks depth, chemistry, and/or a long-term member of the core.
So, is it worth it? Probably not.
Kesler manning the 2nd line center position would be dream come true for Hawks fans. However, could he stay healthy, what would the Hawks have to lose? Would his cap hit affect contract negotiations with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane?
There are just too many questions when looking to acquire the highly-talented, but recently injury prone Kesler. Ultimately, trading for Kesler is just not worth the gamble, for the Hawks.
Stan Bowman and the Hawks would be wise to look elsewhere for the solution to the 2nd line center problem.