While Ken Holland hasn't publicly mentioned anything about a change to his trade deadline strategy of looking to make a "hockey move" for a veteran defenseman without breaking the bank on a rental, today I want to get out ahead of a rumor that seems to only make sense from a high school geography perspective rather than a sensible move.
Again, my words, not Holland's, but center Ryan Kesler to me is the type of player whom the Wings would definitely have interest in, if the price was right. He's signed past this year, he's a two-way stud and he's a Michigan kid.
My sense is the Wings will keep an eye on that situation in Vancouver between now and Wednesday's deadline.
If what Vancouver is asking is too high a price for Kesler, then I don't see Detroit as a player in that mix. But if the price comes down and something makes sense, I would think the Wings would keep tabs on that one.
Ok, so LeBrun is being honest here about just throwing a name and a team out there to let the imagination roam free. He also says later down in the article that sources are calling the asking price "significantly high."
The reason I don't see this as anything more than fancy daydreaming is that a move like this doesn't make sense from a hockey move perspective other than the two facts that Kesler isn't a rental (two more years after this at $5M AAV) and he's from Michigan. I don't think those two factors are particularly moving.
Ryan Kesler may be a Livonia native, but he didn't grow up idolizing the Red Wings like so many other local Michiganders who "came home." Kesler liked the North Stars and the Avalanche. He liked the Avs during "The Rivalry." I don't know if you're old enough to remember this or foolish enough to believe that an 11-year old kid would be supremely wise beyond his years, but a kid growing up surrounded by Red Wings fans while liking their most-hated rival wouldn't necessarily be expected to have any sort of ambivalence towards the Wings. Most likely, Kesler grew up hating them.
Sure, he's apparently a grown-up now and a professional being paid millions of dollars, but let's not pretend that there's some deep yearning for his hometown team. at best, Detroit could be viewed as a "comfortable" destination for Kesler where he could be close to his family. He certainly wouldn't be living the dream here though.
Second, Ryan Kesler is a top-two center. I know fans like to shit on Stephen Weiss for being disappointing, but if you're counting at home, adding Kesler would give the Wings four top-two centers. That would be nice in the year when absolutely none of them could stay healthy, but it kind of creates a bit of a logjam. Sure, switching positions is an easy solution, or other moves are possible (I swear to god I'll pistol-whip the next motherfucker who thinks the Wings are buying out Weiss). However, that's something of a recipe for a guy to grow discontented with his usage and honestly, that may be part of why Kesler wants out of Vancouver in the first place.
Besides, it's not like Kesler is Mr. Iron Man either. He's got a sizable injury history himself.
Next up: The price. Let's go back to LeBrun for more Holland quotes.
"Unfortunately, we're on the bubble. It's hard to risk that if we miss the playoffs, to trade a high draft pick or a real top prospect for not even a playoff run. At the same time, we feel that the kids that we've got -- Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, Jurco -- they have really made a positive impact on our hockey team. Looks like they're going to be around here for a while and they should be getting better."
You think all those guys survive a trade for a former Selke-Winner from an organization that shouldn't be selling assets right now anyway? I'm just speculating here, but I'm guessing it would take two of that group to land Kesler, plus a high pick. The Canucks aren't looking to get worse by trading a guy away so they can start to tank. If they can make the playoffs, they're going to try.
The Red Wings certainly do need to start transitioning their core slightly younger by finding guys around whom to build a winner and Kesler could provide that, but the cost would be astronomical. The guy's a fantastically skilled player who's a real pain in the ass to face, but all that means here is that you're not throwing spare parts at Mike Gillis and getting this guy out of Vancouver in return.
The final piece is that I simply think Ryan Kesler is a dour grumpy jerk and I don't think he'd fit in well under current coaching or with the leaders the Wings have in the locker room. I mean, we already know that he's not exactly a fan of Niklas Kronwall. If there's any hint of animosity between Kesler and Tortorella's coaching tactics, he's probably not going to find a lot of comfort in working under Mike Babcock either, as Babcock seems to have very little time for the ego-stroking that it seems Kesler needs.
I don't expect anything to come from this speculation, as Ryan Kesler is a hell of a hockey player, but a mess of a fit for the Red Wings at a premium price. Good luck to him on his nude modeling career though.