I happened to be scrolling through individual records for the Vancouver Canucks organization, because, well, I don't have to explain myself to you. As you may have expected, the top of nearly every list was littered with the usual suspects - Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, and Stan Smyl. Expect of course for penalty minutes. I'm going to venture a guess that nobody tops Gino Odjick's 2,127 penalty minutes anytime soon.
Things became more interesting once I reached the list of all-time leaders for points by a defenseman. There was Kevin Bieksa, in 10th place, sitting there as the highest current Canuck - I've finally come to terms with Sami Salo's departure after a long and strenuous struggle.
I found this fact rather interesting, and as I do with nearly everything that I deem interesting, I tweeted it out. This was the first response I received:
That's a good question, and it got me thinking. The answer is a little bit of both, actually. It's no secret that the Vancouver Canucks franchise isn't exactly known for its prowess in the field of developing, and deploying great defensemen. If you follow the team you can sense the level of desperation for an elite defenseman that can anchor the team for years on end. That's one of the main reasons why fans of the team placed so much importance on the entire Shea Weber saga recently.
So while being atop the leaderboard for points by a Canuck defenseman is nothing to scoff at, it's not exactly the most illustrious of accomplishments. Nonetheless, the Canucks have been around for 42 years, and we have to work with what we've got.
And what we have, is the fact that barring some sort of debilitating injury, Kevin Bieksa will likely finish his career as the second highest scoring defenseman in the franchise's history. The reason I say "second", is because unless Alexander Edler decides to make a run for it next summer, he will be making a complete mockery of the Canucks' record books.
Just for the record, if you try to tell me that you read that statement and weren't taken aback, I won't believe you. It still sounds weird to say it. But it's true. Bieksa is under contract with the Canucks through '15-'16, a span of four full seasons. In the six seasons that he has been in the NHL, he has averaged 0.479 points-per-game.
After doing some in-depth calculations with the trusty scientific calculator that Cam Charron bought me for my birthday, if we project Bieksa to play in 72 games per season (accounting for bumps and bruises along the way), and he paces at his career average, he would finish up his current contract with 329 career points. How 'bout them apples, Mattias? Note that I was intentionally conservative with the figures. This current incarnation of Kevin Bieksa, on the Canucks as they're constructed, will surely score at a greater clip than his career average. Plus, it's hard to believe that he will simply fade off into the sunset after his contract is over, without hanging on for an additional couple of seasons.
The one thing that would give me pause is Bieksa's extensive injury history; he has missed 106 games in the past six seasons. And those concerns will only be heightened as he gets older. Although, the two major injuries over that span were freak accidents, that are unlikely to repeat. If you recall he suffered a severe calf laceration in '07-'08, and then severed tendons in his ankle in '09-'10.
It's remarkable that he has actually gotten back to playing at the high level that he has in the past two seasons, given how miserable he looked for a stretch there. If you want you can attribute that to him finally getting healthy, but for me, it has a lot to do with being paired with Dan Hamhuis.
|Are you not entertained?|
When you think of Kevin Bieksa, what comes to mind? On the ice, it is his aggressive play on both ends of the ice. When it's working, you love him. And when it's not, you're finding yourself searching up potential teams that would be willing to trade for him.
Off of the ice, he never allows for a dull moment. Whether he's doing an interview as Ryan Kesler, being best buddies with stanchions (not once, but twice), or mixing in LMFAO references as a stone-faced Scott Oake looks on, you're always entertained.
By the time his career is over, though, we may have to remember him as one of the most offensively prolific defensemen in the history of the Vancouver Canucks.