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Canucks want ‘a player to help Kesler,’ says Gillis

Ryan Kesler

Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler warms up before facing the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Denver on Tuesday, March 9, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

David Zalubowski

Just over a week away from the NHL trade deadline, Vancouver GM Mike Gillis knows what he needs to help his struggling team.

Problem is, getting that help will cost him.

“We’d like to get a player to help [Ryan] Kesler, but you have to give up a lot,” Gillis told Team 1040 radio, per The Province. “If it’s not a rental player or a younger player, you look at your options. We might make hard decisions or none.”

Kesler has played some wing this season, but is best suited as the club’s No. 2 center behind Henrik Sedin. Problem is, finding capable linemates for Kesler has been difficult, and Vancouver’s need for a top-six winger has been increased this season due to down years from Alex Burrows (zero goals in 28 games) and David Booth (five in 44). Zack Kassian has yet to emerge as the consistent presence required of a top-six guy and, outside of a solid campaign from Chris Higgins (16 goals), not many Canucks have stepped up to fill the void.

It seems unlikely the Canucks will go the rental route to find a solution. The team’s had little success with that over the last two years -- Sammy Pahlsson and Derek Roy made minimal impacts (granted, both were centers) -- and this hardly looks like a team ready to make a playoff run. As such, it’s possible Gillis could look to the farm for help at forward. Former first-round pick Nicklas Jensen has been playing well for AHL Utica lately, and could be on his way up to the big team.

“The most noticeable thing is his pace has picked up,” Gillis said of Jensen. “We’d like to leave him there (Utica) but our needs are important.”