Bieksa is coming off 10 seasons in Vancouver and will now join former Canuck Ryan Kesler in his new digs.
“I’ve been talking to him throughout the process a little bit and he’s given me nothing but great reviews about the team, the players, the city, the fans,” said the 34-year-old defenceman. “We’ve been talking the whole season, and he’s been very happy there, his family is very happy there.”
Bieksa had to waive a no-trade clause to go to Anaheim, but in the end the decision was made. It was initially thought that he’d be headed to the San Jose Sharks, but a deal fell apart around the draft and Anaheim became a possibility.
“We wanted a second round pick for Kevin and Anaheim was willing to do that,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “Our goal was to get that pick.”
On the surface, this is a next-to-nothing return for one of Vancouver’s top defenders. In 597 games with the Canucks, Bieksa had 241 points and finishes sixth among team defencemen in scoring, assists and games played.
The issue for Vancouver was that Bieksa had the options come next summer, what with his unrestricted free agency status in the wings. The Canucks are a “team in transition” and are looking to remodel, so they elected to get something for him now rather than to chance getting nothing for him at the end of next season.
“For us to transition this group, these are decisions we have to make and what we have to do,” Canucks president Trevor Linden said.
As for the Ducks, this only deepens their club and increases their chances of pushing over that line for a Stanley Cup. Defenceman Francois Beauchemin is expected to become a free agent tomorrow, by the way, which makes this Bieksa deal all the sweeter.
“He’s a right-hand shot and [Beauchemin] is a left who plays the right side,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said. “I think Kevin skates better than [Beauchemin] does at this point in time, partly because [Beauchemin] has had both knees worked on…They’re both tough and they both have a mean streak. They’re both competitive guys.”