The Vancouver Canucks re-signed Kevin Bieksa to a five-year deal, locking the defender up until he turns 35. In the minds of most Canucks fans, this was always priority No. 1 for their team. Bieksa is a first line defender who is an important part of the organization, and his re-signing assures that the chemistry of Vancouver's first line will stay in tact.
For Bieksa, this deal was more about stability than money. He has children who are currently in school, so staying put in Vancouver for the next five years was important to him.
Bieksa's history of injuries played a role in this contract. He has played in 347 games in his career. Recently departed teammate Christian Ehroff is a year younger, but has played in 500 games. So while he is beginning to age, he hasn't played in many games.
Vancouver usually will not have players on their roster who have played more than 1,000 games, and Bieksa is a long way from that number. If he avoids further injury, Bieksa could play until he turns 40.
Bieksa says because he wasn't looking for a big payday, it made the negotiations easier. This speaks volumes about his character because he is willing to take a pay cut in order to obtain stability.
This could potentially be the biggest move the Canucks make this summer. Bieksa was not only the top defender for the Canucks this season, he was one of the top defenders in the entire league. His team-leading plus-32 rating ranked second in the NHL.
This deal assures that at least one of their pieces to the first line remains in tact. Sami Salo's future in Vancouver is still up in the air, but the more players that remain from the first lines, the better off the Canucks will be next season.
Next season, look for Bieksa to play a bigger role on the power play. Christian Ehrhoff played a bigger role on the power play this past season, but with his departure, that allows Bieksa to flourish when the Canucks are down a man. The Islanders acquired the rights to Christian Ehrhoff for a fourth-round pick in next year's draft.
Overall, Kevin Bieksa is the heart and soul of the Canucks defense, and he will remain the leader of the blueliners for Vancouver for the next five years.