We've been touching on various trade targets in the last week as we get ready for a highly-valued draft and an offseason where teams are going to be looking to unload some guys. Most of the talk has centered around forwards because most of the guys currently being talked about play there. Today, we finally get a defenseman not named Phaneuf to pore over!
#3 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Jun 16, 1981
Contract Situation: 1 year remaining on a 5-year contract. AAV of $4.6M. Salary of $2.5M
Scouting Report: Bieksa is one of those mean defensemen who plays around his own net like he's the bouncer at a club designed solely for anybody but you. He's not particularly known for offense, but he's got a booming shot. Pretty good positionally, but not at all fleet-of-foot. His meanness/slowness translates into lots of trips to the penalty box.
Analysis: The Canucks are in a space where they currently have about 5 roster spots and about $5M to spend. They're going to clear some up by trading a goalie soon and they don't really have to trade Bieksa. However, this is a team spending fairly close to the cap with the look of "couldn't beat Calgary in the first round" about them. Bieksa has the aforementioned no trade clause which would give a list of teams, and there's not a great chance Detroit would be on that list.
If you're looking to tick off the kind of stuff that Ken Holland has been saying about what he wants out of a defenseman, Bieksa hits on many of these levels as far as the kind of stay-at-home viciousness the Red Wings might want to add. What isn't clear is if Bieksa at 34 can still fit into the "top 3" qualifier. last season with Vancouver, Bieksa was given the highest percentage of offensive zone starts in 5-on-5 score close situations and had five defensemen ahead of him in terms of quality of competition (based on War-on-Ice's TOI/60 metric). Despite that, Bieksa failed to put up positive possession numbers.
Of course, part of Bieksa's relatively lower quality of competition was also his relatively lower quality of teammates on a fairly top-heavy Vancouver team. It's certainly possible that Bieksa could play like a top three defenseman if given the responsibilities, but it's been several years since he's been entrusted with that. I think it's a severe stretch to say Bieksa could be a top-3 guy in Detroit (or a severely depressing look at the state of the Wings' defense that Bieksa could actually sniff close to that).
The Price: Most of the buzz out there is talk about a Kevin Bieksa for Milan Lucic swap, which is not really a comparable situation for Detroit and would involve a lot more value coming from Vancouver. The Canucks aren't looking to have money come back to them in return, but Bieksa honestly isn't worth all that much. If the Wings had a 2nd rounder, that might be enough to pull off something like this. Without that pick, I think Detroit having to part with one of their defensive prospects plus perhaps a late-rounder would do it.
The only question is should they? Talks since yesterday seem to indicate pretty heavily that the Sharks are interested in making this trade and that Bieksa is willing to accept a trade to San Jose. Should Holland hop in here?