Respected veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa isn’t quite ready to hang up his skates. The long-time Vancouver Canuck is no longer the elite defender that he was in his younger days, but at 37 years old he showed during the past few seasons with the Anaheim Ducks that he can still be a serviceable asset on the blue line. He continues to train as if he is playing this season and could sign soon. However, Bieksa tells Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy that he’s hoping he can land with a “perfect fit”. Bieksa’s family is remaining in California regardless of where he signs and Bieksa would prefer to stay nearby. In fact, Bieksa claims that he has received multiple offers this off-season, but has not pulled the trigger in hopes of staying closer to his family.
A “relatively close” NHL location to Anaheim, California would of course be the Ducks, but also Pacific Division rivals like the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, and Vegas Golden Knights. Bieksa left the Ducks on poor terms after being underutilized in the postseason, so a return seems very unlikely. Meanwhile, the Kings, Sharks, and Coyotes are very deep on the blue line.
The Golden Knights are an intriguing option, though. The team was recently dealt a blow in the form of a 20-game suspension for top pair defender Nate Schmidt. Vegas is also still at odds with Shea Theodore over a new contract and the restricted free agent remains unsigned as training camp nears. This currently leaves just six proven NHL defenseman on the active roster, including 36-year-old Deryk Engelland and journeyman Brad Hunt. The Knights aren’t without some interesting prospect options, such as Griffin Reinhart and Zach Whitecloud, but the team has already been linked to interest in a veteran PTO or two. Bieksa could step in – either on a tryout or affordable one-year deal – and provide some depth and leadership this season for Vegas. It seems like a natural fit for both sides; will it happen?