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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    With DeKeyser locked up, Holland still has work to do in Detroit

    Ken Holland
    AP
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    There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.

    “Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”

    For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.

    Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

    If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:

    DeKeyser — Mike Green
    Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
    Brendan SmithAlexey Marchenko
    Xavier Ouellet

    It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.

    At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.

    Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk

    Nugent-Hopkins trying to ignore trade rumors — ‘If it happens, it happens’

    BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14:  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on December 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.

    The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.

    “I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”

    Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.

    What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.

    The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.

    Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

    Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.

    Flyers reportedly avoid arbitration with Manning, sign him for two more years

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    Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.

    Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.

    Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.

    Report: Blackhawks, Rundblad agree to terminate contract

    DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 09:  David Rundblad #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period at American Airlines Center on October 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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    The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

    Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.

    Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.

    It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.