PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Kesler did his research and decided he has a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks than with the Vancouver Canucks. That's the reason, and the only reason, the center waived his no-trade clause to permit a trade to the Ducks on Friday.
COVERAGE OF RYAN KESLER TRADE
Vancouver traded Kesler and a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft to Anaheim for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and Anaheim's first-round and third-round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft (Nos. 24 and 85).
Kesler has two years and $10 million ($5 million salary-cap charge) remaining on his contract.
"I'm going to Anaheim to win a championship," Kesler said. "That's going to be my sole goal and my team's sole goal. That's basically it."
Kesler met with Canucks general manager Jim Benning after the season and came away with the feeling the team was not going to be in position to win the Stanley Cup in the near future. That did not sit well with him, so he told Benning he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to either the Ducks or the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I'm turning 30 [on Aug. 31] and not only do I want to win the Stanley Cup, I want to be a big part of winning the Stanley Cup," Kesler said. "I'm not getting any younger. I want to win a championship. With the direction [Vancouver] is going, I think us and management just made a decision that it was time to move on."
Benning said the Canucks tried to get Kesler to expand his list of teams in the past three weeks, but he was steadfast on going to either the Ducks or the Blackhawks. Benning said the Blackhawks were in it until the end, but acquiring Bonino was a key to the trade because the GM said he thinks the 26-year-old can replace Kesler as the Canucks' No. 2 center.
"Bonino was an important piece," Benning said. "Ryan scored 25 goals for us last year. [Bonino] scored 22 goals last year, so being able to replace [Kesler's] goal production for our team next year, and he can play the power play and he's a playmaking center iceman, I thought that was important."
Benning said trading Kesler as soon as possible was significant because he didn't want it to fester and become another Roberto Luongo saga, which played out over two years before the goaltender was traded to the Florida Panthers on March 4.
"[Ryan] just felt he needed a fresh start, and quite frankly we don't want somebody that doesn't want to be here," Benning said. "We're going to acquire high-quality people that are going to come in here and want to work hard for one another, so we didn't give it much thought. We would have liked to keep him, but his mind was made up, so we did the best we could in the situation."
Center - ANA
GOALS: 25 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 43
SOG: 239 | +/-: -15
Kesler will be the No. 2 center in Anaheim, as he was in Vancouver, but now he'll be playing behind Ryan Getzlaf
on a team that finished first in the Pacific Division last season instead of behind Henrik Sedin
on a team that didn't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Last year, that season was tough on all the players that play for the Canucks, and me no differently," Kesler said. "I hate losing and that season was painful, to be honest. The fact that they're in a rebuild and looking to get younger and are years away from being a contender, I think it was just time for me to move on and win and hopefully take home a championship."
Anaheim general manager Bob Murray said he tried to acquire Kesler at the NHL Trade Deadline last season but felt the Canucks were not ready to make the move. Mike Gillis was Vancouver's general manager at the time.
Murray contacted Benning after the season and said the negotiations were straightforward. The only stipulation Murray had is that he did not want to trade the No. 10 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, which was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in a trade for Bobby Ryan last summer.
"It's one thing I told him right off the bat and any other conversations I had with people," Murray said. "So far we have kept [the pick]."
Murray said it was difficult to give up Bonino, but said he felt the Ducks had to improve at center, particularly after watching the Los Angeles Kings eliminate them in a seven-game series and go on to win the Stanley Cup with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter as their top two centers.
"After the season in reviewing things, we knew we had to fill that," Murray said. "Not that [Kesler is] a second-line center, but we knew we needed someone behind Ryan Getzlaf. This is a huge move for our hockey team. We're better today than we were yesterday."
Kesler had 25 goals and 43 points in 77 games last season after scoring 13 points in 17 games in 2012-13, when he missed 31 games because of injuries to his shoulder, wrist and ankle.
He won the Selke Trophy in the 2010-11 season, when he scored a career-best 41 goals and 73 points, had a plus-24 rating and was second in the NHL with 83 takeaways. He helped the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.
Kesler scored a career-best 75 points in 2009-10. He has 393 points in 655 NHL games, all with the Canucks, who selected him with the 23rd pick in the 2003 NHL Draft.
Center - VAN
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 27 | PTS: 49
SOG: 159 | +/-: 14
"He's a very good playoff player, he's a heart-and-soul guy," Murray said. "We weren't very good on faceoffs all year; he's really good on faceoffs. He's an excellent penalty-killer, can play the power play. Just having those two guys back-to-back, the two Ryans, it makes Mr. Getzlaf's life a little easier right now too. I think we're going to be a harder team to play against right now."
Bonino, who is coming off his best season, is under contract for three seasons with a $1.9 million salary-cap charge. He had 49 points in 77 games and was clutch in the postseason with four goals, including the overtime winner in Anaheim's series-clinching, 5-4 come-from-behind win in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round against the Dallas Stars. Bonino scored the goal that sliced Dallas' lead to 4-3 with 2:10 remaining in regulation.
Bonino has 82 points in 189 NHL games, all with Anaheim.
Sbisa had six points in 30 games with the Ducks last season. He has 56 points in 266 NHL games, including 227 with Anaheim after being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on June 26, 2009.
"I've been following him for the last three or four years," Benning said of Sbisa. "He's a good skater. He can make a good first pass. He's physical. I think if we work with him and we add structure to his game, he's a good teammate, sticks up for his teammates, physical, I think we can turn him into a real good player for us going forward."
The Canucks traded the No. 85 pick to the New York Rangers for right wing Derek Dorsett.
"We've been talking about bringing in some good energy guys that are going to work hard and compete hard physically and he's going to do that for us," Benning said.