The Ducks have acquired defenseman Kevin Bieksa from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a second-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Bieksa, 34 (6/16/81), scored 56-185=241 points with a +22 rating and 879 penalty minutes (PIM) in 597 career NHL games with Vancouver. Among all-time franchise defensemen, Bieksa ranked sixth in scoring, assists and games, and fourth in PIM. Among franchise playoff leaders for defensemen, he led in goals (10), ranked third in appearances (71), and sixth in scoring.
Selected by Vancouver in the fifth round (151st overall) of the 2001 NHL Draft, Bieksa collected 4-10=14 points with an even plus/minus rating and 77 PIM in 60 games for Vancouver last season. Among team leaders, he ranked third in hits (109) and fifth in blocked shots (93). Bieksa also appeared in six Stanley Cup Playoff games, going scoreless with nine PIM.
Bieksa spoke to reporters about the trade via conference call Tuesday afternoon:
On joining the Ducks
It’s obviously been a difficult process the last few weeks with my family, going through this and trying to decide where we’re going to be heading. San Jose was one of my choices, but Anaheim was always at the top of my list and one of my main choices. We tried to make the best decision for my family and for my hockey career. At the end of the day, Anaheim was the best fit for us. They had a great year last year and the last couple years. They were very close to winning a Stanley Cup, and they have the right team for that. I’m very excited to be a Duck now.
On re-joining former Canucks teammate Ryan Kesler
I’m obviously looking forward to be playing with Kes again. When he left last year, I thought we’d cross paths at some point again. 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. We’ve been talking the whole season, and he’s been very happy there, his family is very happy there. When he heard about the possibility of me joining him out there, he helped me out and answered a lot of questions I had. I’ll be leaning on him going forward.
On leaving Vancouver after 10 seasons
It’s obviously a bittersweet day. I think it will get better as time goes on. I’ve known for a few weeks now that my days as a Vancouver Canuck were going to be numbered. It’s a bit emotional, but I had a great run in Vancouver. It’s a great organization, and I have nothing but great memories in Vancouver. I have a lot of great friends that I’ve made on the ice and in the dressing room. Obviously the Sedins and [Alex] Burrows I played with for over a decade, and I grew up with those guys. Obviously Dan Hamhuis. I could go on forever. I’ve had a lot of great relationships that I’ll keep the rest of my life. A lot of great friends we made in the city, through the kids’ school. It’s tough to leave Vancouver, but it’s also exciting to have a new chapter in my life and to move on to a great city in Anaheim, a great hockey team and it will be exciting moving forward and see what happens.
On being teammates with Ducks players he’s had contentious battles with over the years
I’ve been in the league for awhile, and at some point you’ll cross paths with guys you’ve played against and had altercations with. I’ve played with a lot of guys that I’ve gotten into fights with on the ice, and I always became great friends with those guys. Going to the World Championships a year ago, I played with a lot of new teammates and guys I battled with over the years across the league, and I made some good relationships there. I’ve always had a lot of respect for the Anaheim Ducks, and obviously Getzlaf and Perry are guys I’ve battled with a lot of over the years. We all have the same purpose, and that’s to win a Stanley Cup, so I think things will go over smoothly.
On playing in Vancouver again for the first time with the Ducks
That’s a long way away, and there is so much to think about right now. This is a whole new situation for me. It will be an emotional time, and it will be fun. At least I’ll have time to get acclimated and get into the groove. I have a lot to give to the fans back in Vancouver.
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray also discussed the acquisition with reporters Tuesday afternoon:
On how trading for Bieksa could mean negotiations are stalling with Francois Beauchemin
That’s very accurate. I got told they were going to the market early this morning. We discussed a few things, and it wasn’t going to work. [His agent] told me what he was going to get in free agency, and I couldn’t go anywhere near that. This morning he just said, “We’re going to the market,” and I said, “Oh okay.” Luckily we had prepared for that circumstance and moved quickly on Kevin.
On Beauchemin's decision to test free agency
Beauch played most of his career here, and he was a pretty good warrior for us. He’s worked hard for this. He has the one-time chance to go to free agency. We made them a one-year and two-year offer, and it wasn’t good enough. He mentioned getting three years and five million for free agency, and I couldn’t do that. If they get that, I totally understand what they’re doing.
On what Bieksa brings in comparison to Beauchemin
He’s a right-hand shot, and Beauch is a left who plays the right side. I think Kevin skates better than Beauch does at this point in time, partly because Beauch has had both knees worked on. Kevin is a smaller man, so that’s a difference too. They’re both tough and they both have a mean streak. They’re both competitive guys.