Vancouver Canucks have announced they have traded defenceman Kevin Bieksa to Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a second round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
“We would like to thank Kevin and his wife Katie for their incredible commitment to this team and community,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said in a statement. “It’s always a difficult decision to trade a player who’s been such a big part of an organization for so long and we wanted to make sure we did what was best for both Kevin and the Canucks. Kevin was a leader for us and will always be connected with our fans and the Vancouver Canucks because of all he did for this province and team. We wish him and his family the very best.”
The trade with Anaheim comes just days after a failed trade with the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks were believed to have been after the Sharks’ 2015 second round draft pick, while San Jose GM Doug Wilson wanted to unload their 2016 second rounder. It should come as some surprise then, that Canucks GM Jim Benning has settled for Anaheim’s draft pick next season, given that the Sharks are likely to have a higher pick next season.
Quack quack @kbieksa3
— Ryan Kesler (@Ryan_Kesler) June 30, 2015
The move to Anaheim means that Bieksa will get to renew acquaintances with his old buddy, Ryan Kesler. It also means that Bieksa will get a chance to play for a team with a realistic chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Bieksa first joined the Canucks organization as a 5th round draft pick in 2001. He has played in 597 NHL games over 10 seasons, all with Vancouver.
Bieksa emerged as one of the Canucks’ best defencemen and a leader, as the team became a Stanley Cup contender. His overtime goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final in 2011 was one of the biggest goals in franchise history.
He still has a lot to offer a team as a depth defenceman. His experience and toughness would be an asset to all 30 teams in the league. He could also benefit from a change of scenery and have a bounce-back season.
But with a pair of 22-year-old defencemen, Frank Corrado and Adam Clendening, set to join the team; moving Bieksa out makes some sense. And gaining $4.6 million in cap space doesn’t hurt either, especially on the eve of NHL free agency.
At age 34, Bieksa’s career is on the decline. The gritty defenceman is coming off his worst season offensively since his rookie year. It was perhaps his worst season defensively too.
So while seeing Bieksa leave town may be tough for fans to take in the short term, trading him for a draft pick was ultimately the right move for the future of the team.