Free Agent Blue Plate – Kevin Bieksa

Let’s have a go at another prospective free agent – current Vancouver Canuck (and Stanley Cup Finalist to boot) Kevin Bieksa.

Who's on the phone? The Oilers? Take a message. Photo courtesy OC Register

THE 2012 PLAYOFFS ARE THE GOAL.

NOTHING LESS.

Another fish in the prospective UFA kettle is current Canucks defender Kevin Bieksa. If the Oilers don’t want to make a pitch at current Montréal Canadien James Wisniewski, perhaps they’d like to try their luck with Bieksa.

Bieksa will be a highly sought after free agent should he make it to UFA status.  He’ll be 30 by the time July 1st comes around, and based on his career up to this point would make a solid mid-range deal for this Oiler club.

Bieksa and his Canuck counterparts currently own a 1-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals over the Boston Bruins.  That’s great news for Bieksa right now.  But where will Bieksa be in a month?

That may depend on whether or not the Canucks win it all.

THIS BIEKSA FELLOW, WHAT CAN HE DO FOR THE TEAM?

Ahem.


That was a big one. Call it a case of being ‘right place, right time’ if you’d like, it just spiked whatever free agent interest he had a smidgen higher.

6’1″ and 198 lbs may not be the stature of a prizefighter, but I’m not looking for a Coke machine on defence. Bieksa is a two way guy that is above average on defence, as as you saw in the goal he scored that sent the Canucks to the Finals, he’s not afraid to jump in into the offence. You’ve seen him. You know what he’s capable of. It’s not like the Oilers don’t play the Canucks half a dozen times in a year.

He’d be a welcome addition to the Oilers defence, but at what price?

Plus, would Bieksa be keen on jumping from first to last year’s worst?

HOW’S IT LOOKING, VANCOUVER?
I’m beginning to think that Bieksa’s stock may not be as high in Vancouver as it would on another team.  Bieksa is a solid player, but finished fourth in defencemen in scoring this year (6-16-22, 73 PIM in 62 GP).  Christian Ehrhoff, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis all finished with better numbers than Bieksa (granted Hamhuis by just one point), and everyone in that trio is anywhere from two to five years younger than Bieksa.

The Canucks (like les Canadiens) will have a few players drifting towards UFA status at the end of this year.  Sami Salo, Christian Ehrhoff and Bieksa will all be UFAs on July 1st should they not renew, a cap savings of nearly eleven million dollars.  If the Canucks win the big prize, I can see Bieksa becoming more and more flexible on where he ends up next year (see Blackhawks, Chicago).  The Canucks will also need to decide if they will extend an offer to soon-to-be UFA Andrew Alberts, who will very likely be able to be had for about a quarter of what Bieksa will be making next year. 

SO HOW MUCH

Bieksa’s pulling in $3.5M this season, and if the Canucks win it all, he’ll probably be looking at a raise.  There’s a very good chance the Canucks just fall about themselves, cut the guy the cheque and leave 35 year old Sami Salo in the dust.  If there’s a way the Oilers can convince him that three years on a young team is a good enough number, I say throw him the 3.75 cap hit he was making in his last contract and see what happens.  If he snarls at it, that’s okay.

But maybe, Vancouver is taking into account that he was the fourth highest scoring defender on their team next year.  Maybe they won’t bite.

Oh, I can hear it now.  That’s not going to land him, this is Edmonton.  Remember, this team needs to overpay for everything, right?

Usually, that’s right.  But I’ll be damned if the Oilers are going to overpay for a guy who was the defence’s 4th highest point-getter on a talent laden Canucks team.  $3.75M a year for three years is what I’d go with.  By not signing Vandermeer and Strudwick, you’ve got $3M of the pie.  $3.75M is a fair offer for a guy who would make an immediate contribution to a porous defence on an Oilers squad that’s going to be something to see in a year or two.  Who knows, he might be able to score a few of those San Jose goals while he’s here.

Have your say:  If he’s available, should the Oilers send an offer sheet to Kevin Bieksa?  If yes, for how much a season, and how long?

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