Despite claiming he’d like to stay with the Canucks, Kesler’s name remains in the rumor mill, as teams have been reaching out to Vancouver GM Mike Gillis with potential offers. It’s been reported Kesler has given his front office the names of a few teams he’d be interested in joining via trade. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers are all rumored to be included on this list. One name that has been scratched from contention by Kesler himself is that of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite missing out on the fun storyline of Kesler returning to the city where he played college hockey – with the Ohio State Buckeyes – Columbus shouldn’t be too upset to have their name pulled from the running.
Remember, Vancouver isn’t asking for a small return in exchange for Kesler’s services. Word is Gillis isn’t backing down from his demands of a center, top prospect and a first round pick for the American forward. While the team who ends up with Kesler will get him through 2016, that’s still a lot to give up, especially for a young club like the Blue Jackets. Even though Columbus is hanging in there in terms of the Eastern Conference playoff push, they’re still focusing on building towards the future.
Also, if you’re attempting to make this postseason while also trying to remain competitive in the future, would you want to give up one of your best players? Of course not, but that’s what rumors are saying Columbus would’ve had to do. Word from Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch is Vancouver was targeting Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen, who happens to lead the team in goals and points by a significant margin. Kesler is a talented player, but Johansen, at just 21 years of age, is a key cog for Columbus’ future. That’s an exchange you’d like to think the front office would balk at. So is the idea of parting with reigning Vezina trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who was also a rumored target for Vancouver.
Another reason the Blue Jackets should be OK with Kesler turning down the idea of being traded to Columbus might also be one of the main reasons he decided to do so. It’s been widely reported for a few years now that there’s quite a feud between Kesler and former Buckeye teammate R.J. Umberger, who happens to play in Columbus. There are various stories that have cropped up involving the spat between these two, including some public insults, jealousy over respective contracts and even an on-ice fight back in 2009. Whether or not hostility still exists between these two is anyone’s guess, but you’d like to think it may have something to do with Kesler refusing to waive his no-trade clause for the Blue Jackets.
There’s still time for Columbus to make a splash at the trade deadline in attempts to boost their run towards an elusive playoff berth. However, Blue Jackets fans should hardly be upset that Kesler has personally removed his name from the list of possible targets. In the end, the team would risk giving up pivotal pieces of their roster, while also possibly adding some locker room friction between two vets. For a club that appears to finally be on the upswing, those are two things that would hardly help matters in the long-run.