Ducks acquire defenseman Kevin Bieksa from Canucks
After Francois Beauchemin informed the Ducks he could find a richer deal in free agency, the team reacted Tuesday by acquiring veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa from the Vancouver Canucks for a second-round draft pick in the 2016 draft.
The Ducks also announced the hiring of Paul MacLean as assistant coach to Bruce Boudreau. MacLean was the NHL’s coach of the year for Ottawa in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but the Senators fired him last season.
Bieksa spent each of his prior 10 seasons in Vancouver and contributed four goals and 14 points in 60 games last season. He missed some time because of a broken hand.
Beauchemin, 35, an unrestricted free agent after earning $3.5 million last season, was said by one Ducks’ official to be “stubborn” in contract talks.
Beauchemin spent nine of his 13 NHL seasons with the Ducks, and last season contributed 11 goals and 23 points with a plus-17 rating in 64 regular-season games. He ranks second among all-time franchise leaders by a defenseman in points (179), goals (53) and assists (126), and has a plus-47 rating.
“I could tell [talks] were going astray this morning,” Ducks General Manager Bob Murray said. “He told me what he was going to get in free agency and I couldn’t go anywhere near that.”
Beauchemin is pursuing a three-year deal. Murray said he was willing to pay Beauchemin for one or two more seasons.
“‘Beauch’ has been a pretty good warrior for us,” Murray said. “He has a one-time chance for free agency and maybe somebody will give him $5 million.… I couldn’t do that.”
Beauchemin was an alternate captain for the Ducks and paired with Hampus Lindholm to form their top defense pair. Murray said Bieksa is a better skater than Beauchemin and offers a right-handed shot from the left side, but is smaller than the left-handed-shooting Beauchemin.
Bieksa, 34, was mentioned throughout June as being destined for Pacific Division rival San Jose, but the Sharks balked at the deal before last week’s NHL draft. Bieksa, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent after next season, f rejoins longtime teammate Ryan Kesler in Anaheim.
Kesler was a roommate of Bieksa’s for eight years in Vancouver and tweeted Tuesday, “Quack quack @kbieksa3.” Bieksa has a career rating of plus-22 with 897 penalty minutes in 597 NHL games.
“Anaheim was one of my top choices,” Bieksa said. “Who wouldn’t want to play for that team? Obviously very close to a Stanley Cup.”
Boudreau has two years remaining on his contract, and now has two former NHL head coaches on his staff — MacLean and Trent Yawney. MacLean served as an assistant with the Ducks before, from 2002 to ’04 under Mike Babcock.
“I thought there were some ways to make us even stronger. He’s been with Mike Babcock forever,” Murray said of the longtime Detroit coach recently hired by Toronto. “He adds a whole new dimension to our coaching staff.”
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