PHILADELPHIA – The Anaheim Ducks eventually won the Ryan Kesler sweepstakes, as the Vancouver Canucks center was traded there on Friday afternoon. But both Kesler and Vancouver general manager Jim Benning said the Chicago Blackhawks were right in the hunt.
Benning said the Blackhawks “were in it right until the end,” when he spoke here prior to the start of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft on Friday night.
Kesler added the Ducks and Blackhawks “were my two teams,” via conference call on Friday. There had been a few other teams on the list prior to him narrowing it down to those two. But, he said, “to be honest, I was only asked my no-trade (clause) to Anaheim. I guess a deal happened fast and it caught me by surprise. But I’m happy it happened today.”
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, when asked how close the Blackhawks were, declined to elaborate.
"I don’t think it’s helpful to talk about the talks," he said following Friday's first round. "(Kesler's) in Anaheim now and we’re not going to comment on the whole process. There's not a lot of benefit in that."
Ultimately the Ducks won out.
“I thought getting what we feel is a second-line center iceman in (Nick) Bonino, a guy that we feel can grow into a top four defenseman in (Luca) Sbisa, and then the 24th pick in the draft,” Benning continued. “And the other part of the deal was getting the 85th pick in the draft, which we traded for Derek Dorsett, who is a heart and soul player. He sticks up for his teammates. Given the whole big picture, we were pretty happy at the end of the day.”