Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Kesler for 2nd Round Pick and $1m of cap room... do you make the deal?

That's the decision Dave Nonis is now faced with after Bobby Clarke signed Ryan Kesler to a $1.9m offer sheet.

First, I have to say that this is a pretty good move by Clarke. He's getting a former 1st round pick, who can contribute in the NHL right now, in exchange for a (late) 2nd round draft pick and whatever "cost" you want to attach to Kesler's overpayment. I'd make that deal every time.

On the Canucks end of things... this sucks. Ryan Kesler was not a two million dollar player last season and he most likely won't be this season. The Canucks are already uncomfortably close to the salary cap, add on an extra million dollars to Kesler's contract and Nonis will be sticking himself in the same position he was in last season... no cap room and no depth on the blueline.

But is the alternative any better?

Should the Canucks walk away from Kesler they would be losing their top forward prospect and a player who was expected to play a significant role on this year's squad.

In the short term Vancouver could deal with losing Kesler for this season. Marc Chouinard is set to take over the 3rd line centre role and their are several candidates to fill the 4th line (including Rick Rypien, who is having a strong rookie camp). With Kesler's previously expected $800-900k off the books they would also have more cap room to either use later in the season or to go after one of the remaining free agents. Considering the remaining crop of FA's, they would likely wait and save cap room.

A 2nd round draft pick and the added cap flexibility is certainly worth considering, but how would this affect the organization in the long term?

Looking at the organizational prospect depth... well I wouldn't really use the word "depth". At the forward position there is not much there after Kesler. Giving up Kesler for another Mason Raymond(2nd rd. 2005) type forward prospect would not be a very shrewd move. Kesler has the potential to be a top 6 forward and at worst will be a very good 3rd line centre. Can you really walk away from a prospect like that?

Some of you will remember the last time a another team tried to poach a former first round pick away from the Canucks. Once upon a time the Toronto Maple Leafs made a similar move to snag a young Mattias Ohlund. At the time their offer was considered a significant overpayment, just as the Kesler offer is today. Obviously the Canucks matched the offer and things turned out pretty well.

There is more to consider in the new salary cap era, but for Dave Nonis this isn't a salary cap issue. There is room for Kesler's salary and as such Nonis cannot give up this asset. Over the next 5+ years, Kesler will be far more valuable than the million dollars of 2006/2007 cap space while the draft pick may never materialize into anything of value.

Kesler has been pegged by this organization to be a critical member of any future success. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but just as Pat Quinn did with Ohlund, Nonis will do with Kesler.

With that out of the way I'd like to announce that I'm trying to get things back up and running for the new season. It has been a tremendously busy offseason, arguably the most interesting in Vancouver history. Since I did not have the proper amount of time to devote to this place, I decided to refrain from commenting on the off-season moves until I could do so properly. As the season approaches I hope to get caught up on the off-season stuff as I update the rest of the site and keep up with the news out of camp and pre-season... looking forward to the new season and a new era in Canuckland.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you OK? You haven't updated in a long time.