I have recently been reading a lot of fan proposals about Kesler's value. It seems like there are two camps - the people who think he's worth a bag of pucks and those who believe he can fetch the sun, moon, and throw in a couple stars while we are at it. So I thought it might be interesting to go back over the past seasons and take a look at what other forwards were traded for over the last three years or so.
Oh my god, I just got traded to Columbus!
Jeff Carter to Columbus for the 8th overall pick, Jakub Voracek, and the #69 overall
Jeff Carter was two seasons removed from a Cup Finals appearance, but reports out of Philadelphia indicated that the locker room had all but fallen apart by the end of the next playoffs - remember the infamous goalie carousel? Carter never fit in in Columbus and was traded less than six months later. Jakub Voracek has been a very good player in Philadelphia, the 8th pick turned into Sean Couturier who was pressed into NHL service and has been put on extremely tough defensive assignments, where he has excelled. The #69 pick became Nick Cousins, a decent prospect.
Mike Richards and Rob Bordson to LA for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a 2012 second round pick.
Mike Richards - aka Jeff Carter's best bro - was considered to be one of the top two way forwards in the NHL and a Selke candidate. He is a very similar player in some respects to Kesler, although Kesler is probably better than Richards at this point in time. That being said, Richards fetched an excellent return. Wayne Simmonds is a great net front presence on the Flyers powerplay and brings a lot of grit, and Brayden Schenn was considered the best prospect in hockey for a long time. Schenn had become a decent offensive contributor, but is not called upon in Philly to handle the tough assignments. Philly traded the pick for Nick Grossman, who has been a decent third pair dman in Philadelphia.
Jeff Carter for an LA 2013 First Round Pick and Jack Johnson
Jeff Carter and the Columbus Blue Jackets had imploded by this point and they were looking to get as much value as they could out of him. Jack Johnson has become a decent offensive defenseman in Columbus, although his fancy stats are awful. At the time he was considered a capable young defenseman. The first round pick became Marko Dano, a decent prospect from the KHL.
Kris Versteeg to Florida for a second and a third
Even though Versteeg is not nearly as good as Kesler - maybe a third liner on a good team - it seemed like a starting point. Kesler will fetch more than this, but we know he will fetch at least this much.
Phoenix received a very good two way forward while Columbus received a mediocre but serviceable backup goaltender,. The second rounder was used to bring Vezina winner goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to town. The fifth rounder was conditional and the conditions weren't met. A mediocre haul for a good player.
Jordan Staal was famously the third center in Pittsburgh's old 'three center model'. However, Pittsburgh wasn't capable of resigning him. They received a decent third line center who at the time was considered to have some upside, a good defensive prospect, and a top 10 pick which was used to select Derrick Pouliot, a very good offensive defenseman in the WHL. Jordan Staal is probably one of Kesler's best comparables, but I would say Ryan Kesler is a better forward than Staal.
The proverbial 'Kings Ransom'. Scott Howson had reportedly turned down a better deal at the prior trade deadline, and was skewered by the media for it. However, Scott Howson got a lot of value for Rick Nash. Brandon Dubinsky has been a tough, gritty PKer in Columbus and a good second line center. Anisimov has also been very good for the Jackets, and Tim Erixon is a good defensive prospect - although he has received very little playing time over the past few years. The first round pick turned into Kerby Rychel, a tough forward who recently competed in the memorial cup.
Jarome Iginla was old and slow by the time this trade happened, but the Flames managed to get decent value nonetheless. Iginla would help Pittsburgh to a Conference Final, where they lost to the Bruins. The Flames used the pick to select Morgan Klimchuk, who they are very happy with. Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski are seen as lesser prospects. Nonetheless, Kenny Agostino played in 8 games this season and Ben Hanowski played in 11. The jury is still out on this trade but so far I would say Calgary won it considering Iginla is no longer a Penguin, and all three players Calgary took could become useful players, although it is doubtful that any of them can approach what Iginla accomplished in a Flames sweater. Imagine what Iginla could have brought the Flames in 2008.
Johan Larsson is considered to be a capable two way forward prospect. Matt Hackett is a solid goalie prospect who played in some games this year for the bottom of the barrel Sabres. Buffalo took Nikita Zadorov with Minnesota's pick, and they will use the second rounder at the upcoming draft. The jury is still out but Minnesota is very happy with Pominville.
Marian Gaborik, Blake Parlett and Steven Delisle for Derick Brassard, John Moore, Derek Dorsett and a 2014 6th rounder.
Jarmo Kekalainen's first big trade. At the time. Columbus was in a push to make the playoffs and desperately needed scoring. Marian Gaborik would provide some scoring but he would not last another season in Columbus. John Moore was the only real piece that Columbus missed - Brassard was looking like a bust, and Dorsett is a 4th liner. Today, Moore is providing a solid blue line presence and Brassard is pretty much a third line center. Neither side really won this trade, but the Rangers went to a Stanley Cup Final with it.
Jakob Silfverberg has been good for a third line role on the Ducks, Stefan Noesen is a highly regarded prospect and no one knows what will happen with the pick. Bobby Ryan provided solid scoring in Ottawa. Win/win so far, but the jury is still out.
David Legwand is a similar player in some ways to Kesler - although perhaps not as good as Kesler. Calle Jarnkrok was one of Detroit's best prospects and provided some offense almost immediately to the Predators. Patrick Eaves is pretty mediocre. Who knows what they will do with the third pick.
Vanek for Moulson, a conditional first, and a 2015 second round pick.
Moulson is a somewhat controversial player. No one knows whether John Tavares is responsible for his production, or whether he is really good. Islanders fans loved him. So far this trade is looking bad for Garth Snow. Vanek ditched the Islanders for Montreal, where he looked ineffective at best. His fancy stats in the playoffs were also mediocre.
The rest of these trades have too many futures to know who won them or not. Some of these players listed are as good as Kesler. Some are worse and some are better players. Of all these players, I think Mike Richards is the best comparable. While I have been pessimistic about Kesler's value, the fact remains that Mike Richards brought a very solid second liner, a top prospect and a second rounder. That may not be as good as the haul a lot of us are expecting, but I would be very happy to see something like that come our way. Second round picks can easily become impact players. Brayden Schenn is still coming into his own but is looking like a very good NHL player. Wayne Simmonds is loved by the Flyers and their fans. He has been one of the best net front presences in the NHL when it comes to the powerplay, which is always a great thing for a team.
Kesler's second best comparable is Jordan Staal. He was stuck playing behind two of the best offensive players in the world, similar to how Kesler was handling toughs for the Sedins under Alain Vigneault. An 8th overall, a third liner similar to Shawn Matthias, and Brian Dumoulin is a pretty good haul for a guy who is about to be a UFA. The only reason I don't have him as Kesler's first comparable is because he was about to become a UFA, therefore decreasing his value. That being said, Jordan Staal has never scored over 50 points in a season. Ryan Kesler has scored 70 points twice. Because of this, I am lead to believe that Kesler will have a higher value than Jordan Staal.
Kesler has some things going for him to increase his trade value. For one, he still has a few seasons left at a $5 million dollar cap hit. That's pretty reasonable for a guy like Kesler in this day and age. For two he has won a Selke. His injury history may scare off some teams, but I don't see any reason why he couldn't fetch an impact prospect, a high pick, and a decent NHLer, and possibly even another pick. Reportedly, the asking price was two first rounders, Emerson Etem, and Richard Rakell. I found this doubtful at the time, but looking at what other comparables took in trade makes me see it as a reasonable haul. It would certainly set us up well for the future.
The upcoming draft is going to be exciting and horrifying for us Canucks fans at the same time. I am going to miss Kesler.