The Ducks would like to add an established top-four defenseman, either through free agency or through trade, and the consensus from the rumor mill is that Kevin Bieksa is the top target.
However, there are other options.
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Tomas Kaberle is a more talented offensive player but has a less appealing cap hit than Bieksa ($4.25 million to $3.75 million). Judging by the depth in their system, the Ducks probably can’t cobble together the most enticing trade package for Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who has been shopping Kaberle for months without an offer to his liking.
Former 20-goal scorer Sheldon Souray has requested a trade out of Edmonton, and is reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Ducks. But is Anaheim willing to risk trading prospects for a 34-year-old defenseman with limited defensive skills and a $5.4 million cap hit the next two seasons?
Philadelphia has a glut of defensemen, but you wonder who would be the odd man out in a trade — rising 25-year-old stud Matt Carle? Kimmo Timmonen, who is clearly on the downside of his career at 35 and brings a $6.3 cap hit for the next three seasons? Braydon Coburn?
So back to Bieksa. The Province reports that Ducks GM Bob Murray is past the stage of “kicking the tires” for the 29-year-old defenseman, who offers a blend of offense, defense, size (6-1, 206) and toughness. The only problem is that Canucks defenseman Sami Salo suffered a torn achilles tendon while playing something called “floor hockey” in Finland, and is out indefinitely.
Does that mean Bieksa is off the market? If Salo goes on long-term injury reserve, the Canucks would still pay his actual salary, but his salary-cap hit would come off the books and temporarily put them back under the cap ceiling, according to capgeek.com. They would still have eight NHL defensemen under contract, but maybe the price for Bieksa just got higher.
Maybe Murray turns his attention to one of the other options.