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Zawaski: What To Make Of The Kesler-To-Chicago Rumors

Canucks center Ryan Kesler. (Ben Nelms/Getty Images)

Canucks center Ryan Kesler. (Ben Nelms/Getty Images)

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Jay Zawaski is the Executive Producer of The McNeil and Spiegel Show....
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By Jay Zawaski-

(CBS) If you’ve been on the world wide interwebs in the last 24 to 48 hours, you’ve no doubt heard the rumors that Canucks center Ryan Kesler could be headed to the Blackhawks. While it’s no secret that A) Kesler is on the block and B) the Blackhawks have needed a second-line center for 397 years, there are a few things to consider when breaking down the reality of such a trade.

The Blackhawks are about as close to salary cap hell possible. If we assume the salary cap will be close to $71 million (as CapGeek.com estimates), the Hawks have $4.67 million of cap space. That doesn’t include new contracts for Ben Smith or Jeremy Morin, who are Chicago’s restricted free agents. It also doesn’t include Sheldon Brookbank (or whomever the Hawks decide to use in the seventh defenseman spot) or Antti Raanta. Assume about $1 million for each of those players, and you’re down to less than $1 million of cap space.

That means Chicago will have to clear salary to afford Kesler’s $5 million cap hit. If it’s going to get done, it will likely take moving Patrick Sharp or Brent Seabrook. Sharp is reportedly available, and the deal would work salary-wise (Sharp makes $5.9 million).

However, why do the Canucks want to add a 32-year-old winger in Sharp? Wouldn’t they want to get younger? The Hawks will likely have to add a legit prospect to get the deal done. The Canucks will ask for Teuvo Teravainen or Brandon Saad. The Hawks will laugh and hang up. Then, they’ll call right back just to laugh and hang up again.

The advantage the Blackhawks do have, however, is the fact that they are one of the few teams to which Kesler will accept a trade. That may lower the Canucks’ demands, as they don’t want an unhappy player on their roster while they’re trying to “reboot” the organization with new coaching and management.

If you’re asking me if I would trade Sharp and a prospect not named Saad or Teravainen for Kesler, then my answer is “absolutely 100 percent yes.” If you’re asking me how likely the deal is, I have to say “rather un-.”

Chicago general manager Stan Bowman has never shown a willingness to deal a core member of the roster, and being a shot away from the Stanley Cup Final (and likely another title) isn’t going to change that philosophy. With cheaper options available (Saku Koivu/Sam Gagner, etc.), the Hawks might be more likely to opt for one of those players.

Stay tuned. If a deal is to get done, it could very likely be at this weekend’s draft, which start Friday evening.

Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.