Assuming Ryan Callahan, Mike Cammalleri, Thomas Vanek & Co. are already sick and tired of addressing rumors in regards to their own respective futures, they owe Ryan Kesler a debt of thanks. While there’s no ignoring other prominent potential targets, the trade-scuttlebutt spotlight continues to shine more brightly on the Vancouver Canucks forward than on others.
First, Kesler insists that in no way/shape/form has he asked the Canucks for a trade. Fine. But that doesn’t mean GM Mike Gillis isn’t listening to offers. And TSN’s Darren Dreger suggests we could still see a deal sending Kesler elsewhere before the March 5 trade deadline.
OK, so who might be willing to cough up the necessary assets in exchange for the dynamic forward? A few pundits at Rogers Sportsnet – Nick Kypreos, Doug MacLean, Brad May – discuss the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings as possible trade partners. Remember, the Flyers volleyed an offer sheet Kesler’s way back in 2006.
As for the trade "price" for Kesler, it’s believed to be "significantly high … really high." That might include a prominent player, prospect and draft pick. And if the Canucks can snag such a package in return, there’s the thinking that moving Kesler – now – might work well in the club’s favor.
• ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun suggests Chris Phillips of the Ottawa Senators might be a good fit for the Boston Bruins, who are looking to add a defenseman before next week’s trade deadline. Andrej Meszaros (Flyers), Tom Gilbert (Florida Panthers) and Andrew MacDonald (New York Islanders) are other names tossed around as prospective targets for the Bruins.
• Moving Meszaros may no longer be the priority it once was for the Flyers. Apparently because he’s “playing pretty good hockey” now, according to coach Craig Berube. Still, there must be substantial appeal in jettisoning $4 million from under the salary cap…
• Yearning for a top-six winger, the Senators reportedly have an interest in Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues. But if GM Bryan Murray can’t swing such a deal before Wednesday, recent call-up Mike Hoffman might be “The Answer.”
• There’s word that talks between the Rangers and Dan Girardi are at an impasse. But neither side is giving up yet. As one of the NHL's better all-around defenseman, Girardi would attract plenty of suitors if the Rangers decide to move him.
• Judging from his postgame comments on Thursday, Red Wings forward Johan Franzen isn’t impressed much with how Senators forward Chris Neil approaches the game. Neil roughed up Franzen late in the third period of Detroit's 6-1 victory, and afterward Franzen spoke bluntly about his opponent. Recently recovered from concussion symptoms, the Wings veteran notched a hat trick in the lopsided win.
• The Blackhawks appear open to continue playing center Peter Regin on the second scoring line with wingers Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg. The Blackhawks have been having a rough time finding the best fit for that role.
• Speaking to the press for the first time since suffering his stroke, Kris Letang candidly offers up the frightening details from the experience while outlining a fairly optimistic prognosis. Fortunately, the Penguins defenseman intends (seemingly realistically) to play again in the NHL. Perhaps even as soon as this season.
• Not the comeback the Washington Capitals' No. 2 center was hoping for. After missing eight games with a sprained ankle, Mikhail Grabovski aggravated the injury early in Thursday’s tilt with the Florida Panthers. We recently touted Grabovski as a potentially solid late-season fantasy asset. So scratch that. Turns out the 30-year-old wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent when he returned to competitive play.
• For what it’s worth, center Dave Bolland is expected back soon for the Toronto Maple Leafs. No, we don’t know exactly where “soon” sits on the Leafs’ timetable. But we do know that Bolland (lacerated ankle tendon) suffered a setback earlier this week.