I didn’t say “should”, I said “could” they take a flyer on Kevin Bieksa? On July 1 of this year, Kevin Bieksa will be one month removed from his 37th birthday and he’ll be looking for work. Bieksa is set to become a UFA this offseason and it doesn’t look like the Anaheim Ducks are too keen on re-upping ‘Juice’ on another deal.
The Canucks aren’t in the position to be taking on aging players of any ilk but it might be a case of the devil you know if they took a chance on him. Bieksa is coming off a 2 year/$8 million contract and that will most likely be the last significant deal he signs. The Canucks have proven year after year that defensemen get injured and all too often they’re caught reaching for answers.
Bieksa isn’t the greatest option on the back end and the Canucks have already committed big money to Erik Gudbranson (ugh) and Michael Del Zotto (yuck!) for the next few seasons. KB would be a similar fit to both of those players and on the injury side of things he has seen similar injury time to Erik Gudbranson. On a one-year deal, he could get maybe $1.5M with a team that has a few contracts to dish out and doesn’t want to be too desperate.
Jim Benning will have a lot of money in the bank this offseason and a frugal buy on Bieksa might not be the worst thing he’s ever done. Bieksa finished slightly ahead of Gudbranson this season with 44.50 CF% to Guddy’s 43.68. That’s pretty bad but it’s not the bottom of the barrel bad. He’s also on the losing side of a few other advanced stats but that doesn’t matter a whole lot on this team apparently.
Bieksa is middle of the road in the giveaway department of defensemen playing at least 20 games and even though he has a poor Corsi rating, it doesn’t look like he’ll be the scapegoat for any danger that will inevitably come the Canucks way.
Now, the Canucks face a few issues on defense with the potential exodus of Ben Hutton, the uncertainty of a Chris Tanev trade, and as mentioned above, the other side of a hopefully healthy Erik Gudbranson. Does Bieksa make things a bit easier for Benning if any of these scenarios pan out? His first pass and his ability to be a swashbuckler of sorts give the Canucks a bit more physicality and potential offense than they’ve had recently.
Statistically speaking, this past year was Bieksa’s second-worst. He had eight assists in 59 games played, Chris Tanev even had 11 points this season. He won’t be brought in for the points he produced in his past but for his ability to be a consistent option on a third pairing. Getting through a season without an injury might not be a guarantee for KB but if he does keep the record clean he might have something left to give still and why not with a team that knows him best. The Canucks need some snarl back in their lineup and especially on the backend.
There have been too many times where the Canucks appear to just turn the other cheek and even though they had more hitz than Big Shiny Tunes 2 this past year, most of us are hard-pressed to remember any of them.
He isn’t going to be a game-breaker and he won’t be a guy you can count on for big minutes night after night but Kevin has seen what this league can offer young players looking to make a name for themselves and that leadership might be a factor that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Vancouver is rebuilding and signing Bieksa to a deal might not be the best way to spend money but on a low-risk one-year deal he might help bridge a gap for Jalen Chatfield, Ashton Sautner or the infamous Guillaume Brisebois.
Kevin Bieksa is a band-aid to the Canucks problem on defense, he’s not a big shin-sized one that keeps it all together but even the Spider-Man ones that cover paper cuts are effective when needed.
Plus, he’ll make the team fun to watch even after a loss.
Photo – O.Canada.com