PHILADELPHIA – The Vancouver Canucks were busy early on draft day, sending forward Ryan Kesler to Anaheim and defenseman Jason Garrison to Tampa Bay as part of three trades made hours before Florida chose defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the No. 1 selection Friday.
While picks were involved in each deal, the Canucks cleared salary-cap space as they head into the summer shopping season.
Vancouver’s first move accommodated Kesler’s trade request, as the center was dealt to the Ducks along with a third-round pick in next year’s draft for forward Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th selection on Friday. The Canucks used that pick to take center Jared McCann from Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League.
Kesler, 29, had six seasons with more than 20 goals for Vancouver — including 41 in the 2010-11 season, when he was an All-Star.
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“He just felt he needed a fresh start, and quite frankly we don’t want somebody that doesn’t want to be here,” first-year Canucks general manager Jim 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.”
The Canucks also got a third-round pick — No. 85 overall — from Anaheim and flipped that selection in their third trade of the day, getting grinding forward Derek Dorsett from the New York Rangers.
In between, Vancouver acquired the 50th pick (second round) in exchange for Garrison, the rights to forward Jeff Costello and a seventh-round draft choice in 2015.
The Ducks were more than happy to step in to get Kesler, who will give them depth at center with Ryan Getzlaf already in place.
“This is a huge move for our hockey team,” Anaheim general manager Bob Murray said.
Kesler, who waived his no-trade clause, said, “I’m going to Anaheim to win a championship. That’s going to be my sole goal, and my team’s sole goal.”