© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks' Ryan Kesler is pictured in Vancouver on April 5, 2014. The Vancouver Canucks have traded veteran centre Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks Friday.
PHILADELPHIA – The Ryan Kesler saga is over as the Vancouver Canucks traded the veteran centre to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Nick Bonino, defenceman Luca Sbisa and the 24th pick in Friday night's NHL draft.
Vancouver also received a third-round pick Saturday – No. 85 overall – and sent its 2015 third-round selection to Anaheim.
Kesler's full no-trade clause limited the leverage new Canucks general manager Jim Benning had in talks to move him. But the motivation was there because the 29-year-old had issued a trade request to the previous regime.
In getting the 26-year-old Bonino and 24-year-old Sbisa, the Canucks took more steps toward a youth movement that began in earnest when they sent goalie Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers at the NHL trade deadline.
"This trade reinforces our goal to add youth, support our core players and develop draft picks who will contribute to the future success of our team,'' Benning said in a statement. "Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa are talented players who immediately bring youth and skill to our roster.
"An additional first- and third-round pick gives us the opportunity to add two strong players to our system.''
Kesler had 25 goals and 18 assists in 77 games last season. Kesler has two years left on his contract at a salary and cap hit of US$5 million each.
Bonino had 22 goals and 27 points in 77 games for the Ducks last season, though that included some time alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Sbisa missed a substantial part of the 2013-'14 season with a torn tendon in his hand. This is the second time he has been traded on draft day after being a part of the deal that sent Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009.
The move is the first major one under Benning and president Trevor Linden.
For Anaheim, the trade seems to be one way to counter the Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings' 1-2 punch of centres Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. Getzlaf and Kesler might represent the third-best combination in the league behind the Kings and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That's if Kesler doesn't wear down. One major concern is how much of a toll his 700-plus regular-season and playoff games have taken on his body.