Vancouver Canucks: Looking back on Ryan Kesler trade

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Ryan Kesler
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Ryan Kesler /

It’s been over three years since the Vancouver Canucks traded away Ryan Kesler, and the deal has played a huge role in shaping this current team’s core.

The 2014 offseason was one of the most interesting in Vancouver Canucks history. Head coach John Tortorella was fired and replaced by Willie Desjardins. New general manager Jim Benning was forced to honour Ryan Kesler‘s trade request.

Kesler had requested a trade during the 2013-14 — just three years after winning his first Selke Trophy and nearly leading the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup Championship in 2011. Benning had no choice but to settle for the Anaheim Ducks underwhelming offer — a 2014 first-round pick, defenceman Luca Sbisa and centre Nick Bonino.

Anaheim has been great to Kesler. He’s scored at least 20 goals and 47 points in each of his three seasons there, leading the Ducks to the 2015 and 2017 Western Conference Final.

More from The Canuck Way

For the Canucks, let’s just say it was considered a win when the Vegas Golden Knights selected Sbisa in the Vegas expansion draft.

But as for Bonino and that first-round pick? That significantly impacted the Vancouver squad we all know and love today. The Canucks used the 24th-overall selection (from Anaheim), to draft centre Jared McCann.

He scored nine goals and 18 points in 69 games for Vancouver in 2015-16, but was packaged in a deal to the Florida Panthers which brought Erik Gudbranson over to Vancouver.

The 6-foot-5 defenceman was supposed to provide depth and stability on the Canucks’ blue line, but wrist surgery caused him to miss the final 52 games of 2016-17. Gudbranson’s play was also far from expiring, and it remains to be seen if he can morph into a mainstay in Vancouver.

Bonino led to Sutter

Bonino had a solid 2014-15 season in Vancouver, scoring 15 goals and 39 points as the Canucks finished second in the Pacific Division. But in the offseason, he, Adam Clendening and a second-round choice were sent to the  Pittsburgh Penguins for Brandon Sutter and a third-round pick.

So far, the Penguins have won this trade by a mile. Bonino found a niche as their third-liner, helping Pittsburgh win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

Related Story: Vancouver Canucks: Playoffs are a possibility in 2018

But Sutter hasn’t been a bust by any means. Often used as a third-liner, he managed 17 goals and 34 points for the Canucks in 2016-17. He’s by far this team’s best defensive forward, too.

Sutter may not quite be as dominant as Kesler, but he’s younger by five years and does more than the average third-liner. Can’t complain too much.


So at the end of the day, Vancouver essentially has a bottom-pairing defenceman and a hopeful 20-goal scorer to show for the Kesler trade. Sure, this team had hoped for more in return, but Gudbranson and Sutter are capable of being key pieces during Vancouver’s rebuild.

It’s important to remember how hard it is for a team to get good value when a player requests a trade. The Ottawa Senators were robbed by the San Jose Sharks in the Dany Heatley trade. The Anaheim Ducks basically stole Chris Pronger away from the Edmonton Oilers.

Kesler wanted to be traded, and the Canucks couldn’t transition into the new era with a player in his 30s who didn’t have a desire to stay there.

Next: Canucks should move on from Sedins in 2018

The Anaheim Ducks definitely won the Ryan Kesler trade, but the Vancouver Canucks didn’t do so bad, given the tough circumstances of trading away a franchise star.