By: Jeff Riger

Let’s go ahead and cut to the chase here.

As the March 5th NHL trade deadline approaches it has become apparent that Livonia native Ryan Kesler will be available for the right price. Kesler is rumored to want out of Vancouver and has already been linked to the Wings by many respected NHL pundits.

No doubt, another forward would help Detroit considering Henrik Zetterberg is lost for the regular season.

Kesler is a stud. He’s just 29 years old, he’s not a rental player as he has 2 more seasons left on his contract after this year and he has more goals than any other Wing currently. Kesler has 20 tallies this season while Zetterberg leads Detroit with 16. Kesler also leads all NHL forwards in ice time as well. It’s not often that a guy of Kesler’s caliber is able to be had via a trade.

Of course there are some negatives to center’s game as well…

He’s often injured, his numbers seem to be declining and there is some belief that he and head coach John Torterella don’t get along after getting his assistant Captain “A” yanked away earlier in the season. There are also questions about what kind of teammate he currently is? Although Kesler’s positives far outweigh his negatives.

Kesler told reporters Thursday that he doesn’t want to be traded and that the Canucks have not approached him about a possible deal but the story isn’t going away.

So what would it take to get the Michigan born forward?

The general thought is Vancouver would ask for a first round draft pick, a current roster player and a prospect, all three things the Wings could offer if they chose to. Add that to the belief that GM Ken Holland likes veteran players and has money to spend since putting Zetterberg on IR and the Wings might be the perfect fit for a guy like Kesler that might want to come home.

But I hope not!

Don’t get me wrong, I think the world of Kesler and think he can come in and help the Wings immediately. I just don’t want to see any of the “kids” be dealt in the process.

I think it’s safe to assume that if the Canucks were to deal Kesler, they wouldn’t want guys like Drew Miller, Luke Glendening, Kyle Quincey or Joakim Andersson. Instead players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan would be the targets and it would be a bad idea for the Wings to part ways with them. All four forwards have already shown great promise and skill in their short time with the Wings. In fact, you can make the case that it has been the young guys that have helped put the Wings in a position where they can make the post season for a 23rd consecutive time. The ice time of Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelson and Todd Bertuzzi has gone to the “kids” and this team is much better for it. In fact it should have happened earlier.

Also Nyquist, Jurco, Tatar and Sheahan don’t make anything. They’re perfect players for the salary cap era. They contribute, they’re young and they’re cheap. The four forwards combined have a salary cap hit of just over $3 million while Kesler alone has a cap hit of $5 million.

And one of above four players is just a third of what Vancouver will want. Detroit would still have to offer up a 1st round pick and a prospect or worse, maybe two of the above forwards depending on how bad Holland would want Kesler.

The pick doesn’t bother me all that much but the potential prospect might.

By now you have heard about Anthony Mantha, the 18 year old winger that has 50 goals and 55 assists in 50 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Mantha is 6’5 and has the potential to be the next big thing. Sure, I might be wowed by his 105 points and yes he’s not even playing in the AHL yet, but dealing him for anybody at this juncture of his career would seem very foolish. Despite Detroit having a ton of very talented forwards and defenseman in their organization, it would seem that Vancouver might ask for Mantha and if he’s not available you have to wonder how many other quality prospects it might take to acquire Kesler? The price just seems way too high.

The Wings are in a great place, they’re playing extremely well right now and their future is very bright. They have the best of both worlds. A trade for Kesler; because he is such a big name and would command such a high price is not a good idea. Stick with what you have, continue to develop the younger players, don’t break up what seems to be a very good chemistry and see if you can make a run in the playoffs.

I fully admit that I might be blinded by the talent of guys like Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan and Jurco and maybe I’m overvaluing them. However it’s hard to argue with what we’ve seen already and if this is just the beginning I want to see what comes next.

Because of the huge risk of overpaying for Kesler, I would pass. What about you?

Oh one more thing…

If you’re going to make a deal, trade for a defenseman, Detroit needs one of those!


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