35-Year-Old Defenseman – Anaheim Ducks
Kevin Bieksa Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $8 million extension with the Ducks in July 2015.
Bieksa (upper body) will return to Sunday's Game 2 lineup against the Predators, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
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Bieksa tends to fly under the radar, but he can be a dependable contributor in most formats thanks to his mix of playing time (20:49 per game with the Canucks in 2014-15) and penalty minutes (879 in 10 NHL seasons). The 34-year-old still had plenty left in the tank in his final season in Vancouver, and he could see an increase in production thanks to the fast-paced style of play in Anaheim. With the exception of last season, Bieksa had eclipsed 20 points in every season where he played at least 40 games, and it’s very possible a change of scenery will invigorate the veteran after a relatively pedestrian campaign. The defenseman played a major role on an elite 2010-11 Vancouver team on which he went plus-32, and he should be a major asset regardless of whether he plays on the first or second pairing in Anaheim.
After taking a step back in 2012-2013, Bieksa once again struggled offensively in 2013-2014. Only two years removed from his eight-goal, 44-point season, Bieksa only managed four goals and 24 points in 76 games last season. Pencilled in as Vancouver’s top defenseman on the right side, Bieksa provides much fantasy value outside of point production. He led Canucks’ defensemen with 104 PIM last season and also proved his value with 144 hits and 130 blocked shots. After a strong performance with Team Canada at the 2014 World Championships, Bieksa looks poised to make some improvements on his totals from last season. And with the departure of Jason Garrison to Tampa Bay, Bieksa will get that chance in 2014-2015.
After putting together one of the better seasons of his career in 2011-12, Bieksa took a step back last year. He saw his point-per-game pace drop from 0.56 in 2011-12 to 0.33 in 2012-13 to finish with just 12 points (six goals, six assists) during last year’s strike-shortened campaign. He once again dealt with injuries, appearing in 36 of 48 games because of a couple minor lower-body ailments. While Bieksa has been inconsistent over the past couple seasons and remains an injury risk, the 32-year-old, top-four defenseman still has the ability to post decent point production with a plus-minus rating on the right side of the ledger and some decent penalty minutes.
After posting back-to-back 22-point seasons, Bieksa rediscovered his scoring touch with 44 points (8 G, 36 A) in 78 games for the Canucks last year He ranked tied for 12th in the league in points among defenseman while posting a plus-12 rating and racking up 94 penalty minutes. One of the main reasons for his bounce-back campaign was his ability to stay relatively healthy – a common theme in all three of his 40-point campaigns. Bieksa dealt with a minor undisclosed injury near the end of the regular season and in the playoffs last year, but all signs point to him being 100 percent for training camp. He’s locked into the Canucks’ top four, so as long as he can stay healthy, Bieksa will once again have the opportunity to be a top-15 scoring option on the backend.
Bieksa managed just 22 points (6 G, 16 A) in 2011-12, but salvaged fantasy value by posting a career-best plus-32 rating, while also racking up 73 penalty minutes. Previously considered an offensive-minded defenseman, Bieksa improved his two-way play last season, which resulted in the Canucks rewarding him with a five-year, $23-million deal this summer. As his 66 games played last season indicates, though, Bieksa remains an injury risk. The 30-year-old blueliner will be asked to pick up some of the offensive production left vacant by Christian Erhoff leaving town, so if he can stay healthy, Bieksa will have ample opportunities to rack up points on the Canucks’ top defensive pairing.
For the second time in three years, Bieksa missed significant time after suffering a laceration to his leg. After missing two months of action, the 29-year-old was able to return and finish with three goals and 19 assists in 55 games. All looks good health-wise for Bieksa as he enters the 2010-11 campaign, but his role with the Canucks could be reduced after the offseason additions Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard. There’s 40-point potential here, but uncertainty surrounding his role should be of some concern when putting together your back end.
After a injury-plagued 2007-08 campaign, Bieksa was able to return to form last year, totaling 11 goals and a career-high 32 assists. He'll once again assume a role as one of the Canucks' top blueliners. His ability to supply offense from the back end will keep him on the ice and provide him with plenty of time with the man advantage, so look for another 40-point campaign from the 28-year-old defenseman.
Bieksa’s forgettable 2007-08 campaign has soured many potential fantasy owners. A fluke injury to his calf – sliced open by a skate in a game against Nashville – contributed to Bieksa’s failed season. A highly-targeted blueliner in last year’s drafts, Bieksa struggled mightily after sustaining the calf injury. He tried to return from the injury prematurely and wound up with only two goals and 10 assists in 34 games. He reported to camp at full health and is looking to return to his production from the 2006-07 season.
Coming from out of nowhere, Bieksa became an integral part of Coach Alain Vigneault's defense-first philosophy. The former fifth-round draft pick brings to the arena a grittiness the team has sorely lacked on the back end by not being afraid to get his nose dirty (as seen by his 134 PIMs in 2006-07). He will see ample time on the power play and should be golden to net similar numbers as last season, which will be good enough to claim elite status in the NHL.
Bieksa looks to be headed into a major role with the Canucks in 2006-07. Although he won't be playing top four minutes, his offensive talent will net him some points and is worth keeping an eye on should a top Canuck defender go down with injury.