Kevin Bieksa is one of the most interesting of today’s hockey analysts. He’s widely knowledgeable in hockey because he was a top-flight defenseman for both the Vancouver Canucks and later the Anaheim Ducks. In addition to being an interesting personality, Bieksa is also a smart guy.
As a youngster, he played three seasons in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OPJHL) with the Burlington Cougars. He was then awarded a scholarship to Bowling Green State University near Toledo, Ohio. There he graduated with a bachelor’s degree (B.A.) in finance. During this time at Bowling Green, he was also a two-time CCHA All-Academic honorable mention in 2003 and 2004.
Currently, Bieksa co-hosts Hockey Night in Canada where he can be seen most weekends as part of the HNIC panel. He’s a nice change from the almost pious seriousness of the past – including Don Cherry’s Coaches Corner. Instead, Bieksa banters with other panelists, including Elliotte Friedman, about things both important and not important – from Friedman’s odd dress code to his whiteboard insights. He’s irreverent, sarcastic, disruptive, and often insightful as well as handles important human topics well.
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Bieksa’s Time in the NHL
Bieksa was an undrafted player who was signed by the Vancouver Canucks in 2005. He made his NHL debut with Vancouver during the 2005-2006 season and went on to play there for 10 seasons. He was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 2015 and played for them for three seasons before retiring.
Over the 13 seasons Bieksa played, he became known as a solid NHL defenseman who played physical hockey, provided solid team leadership, and was able to help his team succeed at both ends of the ice. He played a total of 810 games in the NHL, scoring 48 goals and 157 assists.
Bieksa’s Contributions to the Canucks’ Success
With the Canucks, Bieksa was a key player on a team that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. However, there they lost to the Boston Bruins. Because of his tough play and his willingness to drop the gloves if he believed the situation called for it, Bieksa became a fan favorite both in Vancouver and with Anaheim.
In total, Bieksa played in 597 games for the Canucks, recording 36 goals and 126 assists. During his time with the team, Bieksa helped the Canucks win the President’s Trophy during the 2010-2011 season. That season, with Bieksa as an Alternate Captain, the team had the best regular-season record in the NHL.
As well, the Canucks got into the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks on the back of Bieksa’s series-clinching goal. That goal came in overtime of Game 5.
In total, he helped his team reach the playoffs over six consecutive seasons. In the decade he spent in Vancouver, he established himself as one of the best and most prized defensemen in the team’s history.
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Bieksa Was Traded to the Ducks in 2015
After 10 seasons with the Canucks, Bieksa was traded to the Anaheim Ducks on June 30th, 2015, along with a 2016 second-round pick in exchange for a 2016 second-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick. The second-round pick was traded away in a package, but the Canucks kept the third-round pick.
Bieksa played for the Ducks for an additional three seasons before he retired before the 2019 regular season. With the Ducks, he was just as dependable a defenseman as he had been with the Canucks for a decade previously.
In Anaheim, he was used in a variety of different situations. He played on both the penalty kill and the power play units. There he leveraged his veteran experience to become an important team leader.
In total, Bieksa played an additional 213 games with the Ducks. However, he wasn’t as prolific on the scoresheet. There he scored 7 goals and added 30 assists (for 37 points) over four seasons. In his NHL career, he scored 63 goals and added 215 assists (for 278 points) in 808 NHL games.
With the Ducks, Bieksa had several memorable moments. He scored his first goal with the Ducks in his debut game with the team. He helped lead the Ducks into the 2016 playoffs, where the team reached the Western Conference Final. They lost to the Nashville Predators.
In total, Bieksa helped the Ducks reach the playoffs three times. With both the Canucks and the Ducks, Bieksa was a well-respected and well-liked teammate. His outgoing personality was a trademark then but also today with his job as a hockey analyst.
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Did the Bieksa Trade Work Out for the Ducks?
The trade that brought Bieksa to the Ducks in 2015 was a success for the California-based team. Bieksa brought experience and leadership to the Ducks. At the same time, his physical, hard-nosed style of play helped the team succeed.
Bieksa was a leader and a mentor for younger players. He was also well-liked by his teammates and respected in the locker room. He helped the Ducks reach the Western Conference Final during the 2016 playoffs, and he was both reliable and consistent over his three seasons with the team.
In addition, the Ducks acquired him at a relatively low cost. The 2016 third-round pick the Canucks received in exchange for Bieksa would turn out to be Will Lockwood.
Lockwood is now playing on the Canucks’ roster, and the jury remains out on him. In 24 NHL career games the 24-year-old defenseman has played over three seasons, he’s registered a single assist (this season). It would seem the trade is a solid win for the Ducks.
How Did the Bieksa Trade Work Out for the Canucks?
The trade that sent Bieksa to the Ducks in 2015 produced mixed results for the Canucks. On one hand, the team was able to trade a player nearing the end of his career. Bieksa would never put up anything close to a 40-point season as he had in Vancouver.
At the same time, the Canucks were able to open a spot for a younger defenseman and free up salary-cap space. So far, as noted, the return for Bieksa has not yet proven to be significant.
In addition, the Canucks struggled over the following years after they traded Bieksa; and, they haven’t yet reached the level of success they had during Bieksa’s tenure.
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