NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Commonwealth Cold War for Ryan Kesler has broken out with about 24 hours remaining before the NHL trade deadline.
It might cost the Penguins their top overall prospect, too.
The Penguins and Flyers have emerged as top contenders for Kesler, a center for the Vancouver Canucks with two years remaining on a contract that counts $5 million annually against the salary-cap.
The Penguins have offered center Brandon Sutter, a first- and third-round pick and the Canucks’ choice of defensemen Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin.
That offer was not final and could be altered as GM Ray Shero is said to be aggressively chasing this potential move.
Derrick Pouliot, a defenseman and the Penguins’ top-rated prospect, would be in play if it meant closing a deal for Kesler. However, the Penguins would be less willing to part with the third-round pick or the other offered defensemen.
Kesler has a no-trade clause and can control where he goes, and the Penguins believe he will waive that clause to join them.
However, the Penguins also believed late Monday that the Flyers intended to make a big push for Kesler, perhaps on a multi-player proposal – though it remains uncertain if Kesler, an American, wants to play for the Flyers.
Kesler, who has publicly denied requesting a trade, was impressed by the so-called Penguins Way on display for Team USA at the Olympics. He especially was taken with Shero, who was assistant GM for the Americans.
The Penguins believe the Canucks’ asking price for Kesler is a forward 25 or younger, a top prospect and a first-round pick. (Sutter turned 25 in February, and he reportedly has a fan in Canucks GM Mike Gillis.)
The Penguins do not want to part with Pouliot, but that stance is negotiable.
It may have to be to sell the Canucks on moving Kesler.
Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reported early Tuesday that the Flyers have made a substantial offer for Kesler, and also are interested in Canucks defensemen Alexander Edler.
Seravalli’s report: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sports/flyers/Flyers-pursuing-Kesler.html
Kesler holds the cards, however.
As did winger Jarome Iginla last season, Kesler could agree only to a trade to the Penguins.
The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The Penguins also are looking at New Jersey defenseman Marek Zidlicky and Edmonton right winger Ales Hemsky.
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