In a surprising twist, Ryan Kesler has emerged as the biggest star of this year's trade deadline.
Emerging as the lone surprise trade candidate (to this point), Kesler has transitioned from a potentially discontent player to an individual who could conceivably be on the move before Wednesday's 3 p.m. ET deadline. With several teams reportedly in the mix, Kesler is the most intriguing component to the next 24 hours.
Dreger: "I feel that Ryan Kesler is actually going to be traded."— Will (@HeyMyNameIsWill) March 4, 2014
Based upon the reports at the time of this writing, the two teams in Pennsylvania are making the hardest push for Kesler.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly interested in re-establishing the triple-headed monster that was in place during their back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2008 and 2009, when center ice was patrolled by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Pittsburgh has tabled an offer for Kesler that would send center Brandon Sutter, two 2014 draft picks and one of Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin to Vancouver.
However, the Philadelphia Flyers have also reportedly submitted a "substantial offer" for Kesler, according to Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News. Seravalli cites a source who says the Flyers tabled such an offer, which would substantiate a report from Rossi over the weekend that stated the Penguins view Philadelphia as the largest competitor in the Kesler sweepstakes.
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The specifics of Philadelphia's offer remain undefined, but it would need to include some components of a young centerman (aged between 20-25 years old), a top prospect and a first-round pick. The Flyers have the pieces to make it work, with many assuming that Brayden Schenn would be the young centerman going the other way as several reports have indicated that Philadelphia would rather retain Sean Couturier.
But Seravalli included that the Flyers are also interested in defenseman Alexander Edler, who is also believed to be available. This would require a larger package and Seravalli believes it would be a deal that would have to be worked out during the summer leading up to the NHL Draft, which coincidentally will be held in Philadelphia.
Beyond the two Metropolitan Division rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks are viewed as a contender for Kesler. Rossi recently wrote that Chicago is an intriguing spot to Kesler and could be a landing spot if the right pieces fall into place. Of course, Vancouver has had serious playoff battles with the Blackhawks over the years and moving Kesler to a conference rival might raise the price tag too high for a team on the cusp of consecutive Stanley Cups.