Trading for Ryan Kesler makes sense for the Penguins


On Tuesday, Ray Shero alluded to the Pens not having the best cap situation this year to make a move and whatnot.

Some took that as Shero declaring himself out of the trade-deadline craziness. We didn’t have the same takeaway.

In fact, we think the Pens may be working on something.

The end result? Ryan Kesler.

How we got there:

First off, read this piece by Mike Colligan. Colligan formulates a great point about the Penguins returning to the three-center system they had with Crosby, Malkin and Staal.

Sutter is due a qualifying offer of $2.7 million when he heads to restricted free agency this summer.  How much will Shero be willing to pay for a young player who hasn’t really shown consistency or intensity?  With Sutter trying to carry a third line, are the Penguins still at risk of being shutdown like they were in Boston last spring?

Maybe it’s time to revive the three-center model.

The good old three-center model…

Down the stretch in Staal’s final season, Bylsma unleashed the full potential of the matchup nightmare.

Against a team with depth, he ran the three centers on separate lines.  Against teams with a tough top defensive pair, he’d slide Staal up next to Malkin and make the opposing coach pick their poison.  Prior to television timeouts or at the end of periods and games, he’d load up all three on an unstoppable line.

Some will take this as an assault on Brandon Sutter. And that simply isn’t true. Sutter has been fine, and in fact if nothing were to happen, the Penguins will be fine with Brandon Sutter.

But think about the potential Kesler brings.

1. He’d be a solid upgrade to an already good penalty kill.
2. He’s an excellent faceoff man.
3. He has the grit to survive a series against any of the big boys in the East. In fact, he could be a huge X factor in a series against the Bruins if it were to ever get that.

Bottom line: he is just as good as Jordan Staal. In fact, as Colligan pointed out, a Kesler for Staal trade was on table.

A Hockey Trade

Like any trade we see, this would have to make sense for both teams. The knee-jerk reaction for people when talking about Kesler to the Penguins is questioning the third-line center role. Again, Colligan dispells all that.

But what about the Canucks? How in the world does this make sense for them? First, let’s identify who would be going to the great northwest.  We see it like this. Brandon Sutter, Simon Despres/Derrick Pouliot, and a first round pick.

1. Brandon Sutter – Depending on how high the Canucks value his upside, they are getting a solid third line NHL center.

2. Simon Despres –  The Canucks need some young, mobile defensemen. Despres can’t seem to crack the Penguins' lineup on a consistent basis. Remember, this is a guy Dan Bylsma said was a top-four NHL Dman. There have been whispers of the Penguins not being fond of Despres’ maturity level.

3. Derrick Pouliot – Pouliot nearly made the Penguins out of training camp. He is the best prospect in the organization. The Canucks have been missing this level of a defensive prospect ever since Luc Bourdon tragically died in 2009.

4. First round pick – Gulp, parting with another first round pick. This fits here, because the Canucks may be ready to blow things up.  And an extra first round draft pick never hurts.

Wheels in Motion

This broke late Wednesday night:


Things to watch the next 48 hours

– Ignore the Ryan Kesler broken-hand stuff. That isn't confirmed.
– The Penguins have been buzzing on Kesler for a month or two according to a source of ours.
– See who else gets involved with the rumors. The Flyers for example, could cause a bidding war.
– Again, as mentioned above, this ending to Colligan's piece is everything:

Additionally, after the Staal trade occurred, I got wind that the Canucks had inquired about Staal’s availability.

The Penguins’ ask in return?

Ryan Kesler.