The Vancouver Canucks have finally moved veteran d-man Kevin Bieksa — but not to the team many expected.
On Tuesday, Bieksa was sent to Anaheim in exchange for a second-round pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The deal comes just days after a widely-circulated report claimed the 34-year-old rearguard was on his way to San Jose, only for the deal to be scuttled during the draft weekend in Florida.
In Bieksa, the Ducks get an experienced rearguard is heading into the last of a five-year, $23 million deal with a $4.6M annual cap hit. In his prime, Bieksa was a key piece of Vancouver defense, cracking the 40-point plateau three times while developing a reputation as someone that played with an edge. He’s also known for his leadership qualities, having served as an alternate in Vancouver, and as a Canada’s captain at the 2015 Worlds.
That said, Bieksa has seen better days.
Last season was a struggle; a broken hand limited him to just 14 points in 60 games and his lack of foot speed and mobility were exposed in Vancouver’s opening-round playoff loss to Calgary.
In Anaheim, Bieksa will be reunited with former Vancouver teammate Ryan Kesler and will step onto a blueline that has some uncertainty; Ducks GM Bob Murray flipped little-used James Wisniewski to Carolina at the draft, and has yet to decide if he’ll return veteran Francois Beauchemin (this deal suggests Beauchemin is done in Orange County.)
The club also recently bought out Mark Fistric.
— The pick heading to Vancouver is interesting. It’s believed the Canucks thought they were getting a ’15 second-rounder from the Sharks, only to learn a ’16 second-rounder was on the table… the same pick Anaheim gave.
— Per TSN, it sounds like Bieksa’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, is working on an extension with the Ducks.
— This is the second significant deal Canucks GM Jim Benning has done with Murray in as many years, having sent Kesler to Anaheim last summer.