Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ryan Kesler, and trading in-conference

Elliotte Friedman is reporting today that though the Canucks have many suitors for Ryan Kesler, they'd prefer not to trade him to a Western Conference rival. Of course they aren't; teams, as a matter of course, usually try to trade players outside their conference, or at least not to a division rival. This is the case in other pro sports too.

The main reason is obvious: teams don't want to get beaten or embarrassed by their former stars on a regular basis. It's a good way to enrage a fanbase. If you're a GM, losing a key game or series facing the player you traded is a fireable offence.

Does it stand up to reason, though? I'm not so sure it does. Kesler is 29, and has two more years on his contract. Suppose you trade him to the Blackhawks, and he and Jon Toews form a formidable dynamic duo for a couple of years. Yes, the Canucks will lose a couple of games to that team. But if Vancouver's entering a rebuild - and given that Luongo and Edler's names are out there too, they seem like they are - what's the harm in losing ganes to the Blackhawks in 2014-15? You're not trying to be competitive next year.

More seriously, if you assemble some young talent to aim for contending in, say, 2016-17, doesn't it actually make a lot of sense to send Kesler to Chicago? By that time, he's possibly left them as a UFA, is in his 30s, and you've stripped them of Brandon Saad and a first-rounder (just spitballing here), and knocked them down a notch such that you've got a better chance of winning games against them.

Just a thought, really. It's such a well-worn truism of the trade market but I think people are too wedded to it.

Follow Rory Johnston (@rnfjohnston) on twitter: twitter.com/rnfjohnston

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