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Jason Chen

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All things considered, Kevin Bieksa seems to be on the outside looking in. With the acquisitions of Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard the Canucks don't have enough room to keep everyone. Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff aren't going anywhere, so at $3.75 million Bieksa is a very expensive third pair defenseman. Salo, Hamhuis, and Ballard all have no-trade clauses. I imagine none of the three will be asked to waive those clauses and if asked would be unwilling. Ben Kuzma of The Province lists Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Columbus, and Dallas as potential suitors, but to me none of those teams make sense, especially when Mike Gillis wants to make "a hockey deal."

<img src="http://canucksarmy.com/uploads/old/2009/04/kevin-bieksa_1.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Now in mid-July, training camp is about two months away. It gives Gillis ample time to find a trade he likes, but as the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Considering how long this Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes has been going on, Gillis may end up having to jettison Bieksa in a hurry. It would be a little awkward for Bieksa to show up at camp when he knows he's going to be gone.

If Gillis wants to make a hockey deal, I can't see him trading Bieksa to a Western Conference team, although it may end up having to happen. As many as ten teams reportedly asked about Bieksa at the trade deadline and perhaps around the same at the draft but obviously nobody offered anything concrete that Gillis liked. Here's a look at some ideal trading partners.

Anaheim - The Ducks are swimming in shallow water with their current blueline. Ha. Ha. Ha. Even with the addition of Toni Lydman, the retirement of Scott Niedermayer automatically makes their blueline go from above average to mediocre. Bieksa would be a good fit in SoCal and had Brian Burke still been their boss it would've happened already. But Anaheim is a conference opponent and has bigger things to worry about (re-signing Bobby Ryan) before making any other decisions.

Buffalo - It's close to Ontario so maybe Bieksa can find some solace in being traded to one of the most boring cities. Looking at the Sabres defense, I'm going to take a gander and guess that Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier are planning on Ryan Miller to steal at least 10-15 games. The Sabres do have some young players - Philip Gogulla, Paul Byron - worth taking a second look at.

Carolina - Quick, name the 'Canes top four. If you guessed Joni Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, Anton Babchuk, and Tim Gleason, give yourself a pat on the back. It may not seem like much, but this group is underrated, starting from the puck-moving ability of Pitkanen to the consistent play of Gleason. Adding Bieksa gives them some toughness and it seems like 'Canes fans wouldn't mind seeing Bieksa there either (although I'd have to pop Wage's bubble and speak for Gillis: "No, thanks."). Digression: Guy to watch for last year was Brandon Sutter. This year it's not Zach Boychuk or Drayson Bowman. It's Jamie McBain. Bonus points for a cool name.

Columbus - Of Kuzma's suggestions, this makes the most sense. If Bieksa heads to Ohio, he automatically becomes one of their go-to guys, although I don't think GM Scott Howson and the money-conscious Jackets would like a $1 million seventh guy (Marc Methot). I also believe that Howson would be reluctant to give up any picks or prospects, considering the somewhat promising future of the organization. Although rumours did indicate that Howson was dangling Nikita Filatov I can't see the Russian winger fitting into Gillis' smart hockey, team-first locker room culture.

Dallas - Kuzma has already reported that the Stars are on a restricted payroll. That counts them out already even with the Marc Crawford connection. I can't see them adding more salary after re-signing their RFAs.

<img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/189/441393950_df854bd0e5.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">Florida - Trading with the Cats has always served us well so why not do it again? Bieksa slots in easily as a top four defenseman and that puts less pressure on Russian sensation Dmitri Kulikov and Keaton Ellerby to perform. It seems unlikely, however, that Dale Tallon would part with any picks or prospects as he begins to put his stamp on the team. A name of interest, since Gillis loves his BC boys, is Michal Repik, a Czech native who honed his hockey skills under Don Hay and the Giants. A key player to watch out for on the Panthers is Evgeni Dadonov. I got the chance to see him last year at the Panthers training camp in Port Hawkesbury in an exhibition game against my alma mater, St. Francis Xavier. The kid can fly. And snipe.

Los Angeles - If the Kings land Kovalchuk, forget about it. The Kings have $16 million in cap space as of right now, and if Kovalchuk gets what he wants at least half of that will count towards the cap. Tack on Bieksa's salary and it looks workable, but even with Michal Handzus ($4 million) and Justin Williams' ($3 million) contracts expiring next year Lombardi needs to leave enough room to re-sign RFAs Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson, and Drew Doughty. In the long run it just doesn't make sense, especially if you consider the fact that the Kings and Canucks are developing a rivalry of sorts.

NY Islanders - The Isles need to reach the cap floor. Adding Bieksa won't solve the problem but it helps in the number books and on the ice. With their years of futility it won't be hard to pry a decent prospect from GM Garth Snow although the former Canuck 'tender is quickly developing a reputation around the league as a tough negotiator.

San Jose - The Sharks do have enough room to accommodate Bieksa and could use another body on defense but the best package Gillis may get offered by Doug Wilson is a late 1st rounder and a mid-level prospect. Not a bad haul, but again, the Sharks are a Western Conference team that will be playoff staples and their pipeline isn't exactly overflowing with quality prospects.

EDIT: Tampa Bay - The Bolts have a good group of forwards and maybe now Vincent Lecavalier can stop whining about not having Vaclav Prospal as his winger with Simon Gagne in the fold. The defense needs work and with arguably their toughest defenseman gone they could use some grit on the back end. Philly fans are going to love Matt Walker. It seems as though Steve Yzerman has been given the green light so the normally cost-conscious Bolts won't be adverse to adding salary.

Washington - I honestly thought the Caps would land Anton Volchenkov on July 1. It didn't happen so the Caps defense remains the same: offensively gifted but defensively clueless. Adding Bieksa puts some much needed sandpaper on their back end and as of right now Jeff Schultz is their shut-down man. Yikes. John Carlson and Karl Alzner are all but guaranteed spots for next year's lineup but the Caps' pipeline features plenty of intriguing players like Anton Gustafsson (the son of Team Sweden coach Bengt Gustafsson), Patrick McNeill, Francois Bouchard, Andrew Gordon, and Mathieu Perreault.

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good blog jay, this is a subject everyone wants to be able to contemplate gillis' move here.......can he parlay juice, into a good return or will he have to give him away like ehrhoff's trade.....atlanta is also way below the cap floor and might be an intriguing trading partner for a package deal.....

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Atlanta definitely has cap room to spare but they already have four defenseman with $3 million plus cap hits (Hainsey, Enstrom, Oduya, Bogosian) and then Brent Sopel at $2.3 million. RFAs to sign include Ladd, Little, Pavelec, Eager, and Bergfors. Adding Bieksa helps and gives them a pretty expensive six-man group but it's my guess that Atlanta will be icing a very, very young team. I can't see Atlanta parting with picks or prospects as they begin their rebuild (again) without Waddell at the helm.

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BEST CASE SCENARIO

Trade him, and O'Brien in a trade similar to the Ehrhoff trade, but the other way. Team? I'm not sure, but there's gotta be one. That way we get the cap room we need to sign Willie Mitchell (Unlikely but I'm hoping for it). Our defense now looks like this:

Hamhuis-Ballard

Mitchell-Salo

Edler-Ehrhoff

Rome

Alberts

The reason Alberts is still here is because I'm not sure any team in the league needs/wants him.

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Willie Mitchell's career will have to be put on hold until he is absolutely 100% symptom free from his concussion. With our current lineup we don't have room. Hamhuis and Ballard are both upgrades, in my opinion.

That Ehrhoff trade didn't work out for the Sharks as well as it did for us so hopefully that doesn't happen to us.

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BEST CASE SCENARIO

Trade him, and O'Brien in a trade similar to the Ehrhoff trade, but the other way. Team? I'm not sure, but there's gotta be one. That way we get the cap room we need to sign Willie Mitchell (Unlikely but I'm hoping for it). Our defense now looks like this:

Hamhuis-Ballard

Mitchell-Salo

Edler-Ehrhoff

Rome

Alberts

The reason Alberts is still here is because I'm not sure any team in the league needs/wants him.

So we are going to trade both of them for a crappy prospect? No thanks. I'm sure we can get more than that for Bieksa ALONE

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the sharks traded erhoff to dump salary so they can get heatley so of course it didn't work out for the sharks we gave them 2 plugs for erhoff

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Good blog and some good insights. I don't think anything happens until The Mason Raymond arbitration domes down. I'm presuming they probably have 2 or 3 different game plans plotted out based on where they anticipate Raymond's salary to fall.

One thing I haven't seen many people consider is the potential willingness of the club to stick a large salary in the minors to maintain the depth if they don't get a deal they consider good value.

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