With the NHL’s trade deadline less than 48 hours away, the Flyers have emerged as a potential suitor for some of the more marquee names on the block. One name in particular has started to surface and, while it would involve a player who plays a position of strength for Philadelphia, a move involving him would more than meet the criteria of a ‘blockbuster’.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) March 3, 2014
Much like every other trade deadline in major professional sports, NHL front offices and executives have a tendency to blow a lot of smoke about possible deals to drive up prices. That being said, the Flyers have a history with Ryan Kesler and one has to imagine the team has kept tabs on the Vancouver center. While the Flyers are recently notorious for the gargantuan offer sheet they threw at
Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, if was far from the first time the team opted for the sometimes controversial method of acquiring players.
During the 2006-2007 offseason, then-general manager Bob Clarke caused ripples among NHL circles when he inked Kesler, who at the time was a burgeoning prospect in the Canucks system, to a $1.9 million offer sheet. Given the fact that Kesler was only 22 years old and had only played a limited role in the Vancouver system, the risky transaction was seen as a bit of a surprise. Although the Canucks ended up matching the offer sheet and retaining Kesler up to this point in his career, one has a tough time believing Philadelphia does not still covet his unique skillset.
Kesler, who just returned from his second Olympic games with the United States, is among the top two-way centers in the NHL. Fresh off his second stint with the U.S. Men’s national team at the Olympic Games, the 29-year old former first round pick has rounded into form and is right in the thick of his prime. In 62 games this season, Kesler has tallied 21 goals (as many as the Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux) and 18 assists to go along with it. Although he is in the midst of a down-year in terms of the statistic (-10), Kesler’s +30 +/- rating only highlights his ability as a two-way centerman.
Much like current Flyers Sean Couturier, Kesler often draws top-billing when it comes to which one of the opponent’s top lines he has to face. In 2010-2011, a year that the Canucks won the President’s tophy for best record in the NHL, Kesler was awarded the Selke trophy for top defensive-forward in the NHL. Were the Flyers to acquire him, Kesler would most likely fill in immediately as the second line center and give Philadelphia an even stronger presence up the middle than they had before.
Kesler would not come cheap. Regardless of what his current organization thinks of him as far as a vital piece with their team’s future, centermen with the amount of accomplishments of Kesler at the age of 29 are not easy to come by. With Vancouver apparently re-tooling their roster, one would have to expect they would request a hefty ransom in return.
Sportsnet also claims the asking price for #Canucks Kesler is “a first-round pick, a player, plus a prospect”
— Jeff Leitch (@JeffLeitch) March 2, 2014
In terms of the Flyers and what they would have to bring to the table to complete the acquisition, they would have to be fairly certain that Kesler is the piece they feel they are missing to complete the Stanley Cup puzzle they have for so long been stumped by. Although things are subject to change, a potential package for this in terms of players within the organization (along with the team’s 1st round pick), it would most likely take Brayden Schenn and 2012 1st round pick Scott Laughton to net Kesler. Although neither Schenn nor Laughton is often mentioned in the ‘untouchables’ of the organization, both are right on the cusp.
Laughton has progressed to the point where he looks to be a year away from a year-long stint at the NHL level and Schenn, while not as dependable as maybe the organization would hope he would have been at this point in his career, has undeniable talent and would be a tough loss to bare for the Flyers. That said, when trades do occur in the NHL, teams have to give up value to get value.
For all the supposed faults within the Flyers front office, they’ve never been afraid to pull the trigger on deals such as this. Although that strategy has yet to yield a Stanley Cup for Paul Holmgren & company.