Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa figures he won't be a Canuck for long

kbieksa.jpgThe Vancouver Canucks have a bit of a logjam it seems. It makes sense given that one of the team’s logos is a lumberjack named Johnny Canuck, but in this case it involves defensemen and not trees. After the team acquired Keith Ballard in a trade with the Florida Panthers and Dan Hamhuis via free agency, the team found themselves with nine blueliners to make use of. 

The most rumored about defenseman on the Canucks roster of late is Kevin Bieksa. While he’s been more than serviceable to the Canucks and could certainly battle for a starting position, his $3.75 million salary makes him a bit of a problem for the cap-strapped team and he knows it.

Canuck defenceman Kevin Bieksa appeared on TSN’s Off The Record program Tuesday, marking the first time he has spoken publicly since the team acquired Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard and pushed him two notches down the depth chart. Bieksa conceded he understands he’s a candidate to be traded away.

“I’m not an idiot,” Bieksa told host Michael Landsberg. “I can put two and two together. Anything could happen right now.”

More of the harsh realities of playing professional sports right there.

Compared with the other defensemen on the team making a comparable salary and able to be traded  (Alexander Edler and Christian Ehrhoff. Sami Salo has a no-trade clause), Bieksa is the oldest of the bunch who can be moved without issue. Edler is 24 years-old and locked up for three more seasons. Ehrhoff is the team’s leading scorer on defense and the power play quarterback. Bieksa, meanwhile, managed to be the only starting defenseman to end up with a negative plus/minus rating, ending the year at -5.

Bieksa is at least having some fun with the rumor mongering going on about where he’s going next if it’s not Vancouver.

Told the TSN panel figured he would be involved in trade talks after the Canucks’ July 1 moves, Bieksa quipped: “Yeah, well, you guys have been drawing blanks for three years now with the rumours so we’ll see if you’re right this time.”

You win this round, Kevin. That said, his future likely lies elsewhere next season.

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    Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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    The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

    But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

    In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

    (In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

    Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

    Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

    Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

    Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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    There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

    “Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

    “Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

    Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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    Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

    The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

    Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

    Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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    Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

    But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

    On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

    Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

    Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.