Mathieu Perreault is a good little cheap centre who did some nice things as the guy behind Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, but as sure as the Zamboni comes out every period to resurface the ice at the Honda Center, you can bet general manager Bob Murray will be taking another run at Ryan Kesler before the NHL entry draft. No team has the assets the Ducks have to get this deal done if the Vancouver Canucks want to trade within the Pacific Division to get younger. For now, it’s in limbo with new general manager Jim Benning on the scene. “Kesler is a warrior,” Benning said at Friday’s news conference, acknowledging he’ll be talking to the centre this week to get his feel on whether he wants to stay in Vancouver or go to a contender as one of the nine players with no-trade clauses. Benning likes Kesler, but he’s a scout at heart and is used to building teams with young people. Kesler turns 30 on Aug. 31. If the Canucks won’t be going into a full rebuild, they have to trade at least one of their core players to start fixing things. The Ducks have two first-round picks — the Ottawa Senators’ No. 10 selection in the Bobby Ryan trade and their own No. 24. They can toss Perreault to the Canucks along with one player out of this list: wingers Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem, centre Rickard Rakell and defenceman Luca Sbisa. The right-winger Palmieri is 23. Etem, who also plays right-wing, turns 22 in June. Rakell, who plays centre or right-wing, just turned 21. All three are former first-round draft picks. The right-winger Palmieri, who bounces around their forward lines, makes $1.46 million for the next two years. All 14 of his goals this season were five-on-five and he had 31 points while playing only 12 minutes a night. Etem, who had seven goals in 29 games, can challenge Andrew Cogliano’s dragstrip wheels and play somewhere in the top nine forwards. Rakell played four games (two points) in the post-season and figures to be a solid NHL No. 3 centre for a long time. Sbisa can be a third pairing D-man. The Canucks might rather have Nick Bonino, one of Anaheim’s most versatile forwards, but he’s not going anywhere. Off Devante Smith-Pelly’s big-body playoff work — he reminds me of former Edmonton Oilers winger Mike Grier — I don’t see him being in play, either, but the Ducks can easily give up three pieces to get Kesler. Perreault is a restricted free agent with a salary-cap hit of $1.05 million. He would give the Canucks a second-line centre with some offensive pop and he’s just 26. If the Canucks could get the Ducks’ pick in the Ryan trade, they would have two selections in the top 10 — their own is No. 6. Anaheim probably doesn’t want to give up No. 10 in a lukewarm draft year. The Ducks would rather toss Vancouver No. 24, but they rarely miss on their first-rounders, no matter how far back they’re drafting. Rakell was No. 30 in 2011, Etem was No. 29 in 2010, Palmieri was No. 26 in 2009, and they got Jake Gardiner at No. 17 in 2008 before dealing him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Francois Beauchemin. In addition, Smith-Pelly was No. 42, a second-rounder in 2010. Even if they had to give up Palmieri or Etem or Rakell, the Ducks just signed University of Wisconsin star Nic Kerdiles to go with another youngster on their roster, Jakob Silfverberg (23 points in 51 games).
Canucks’ Kesler perfect fit as shutdown centre for Ducks
Edmonton Journal | May 26