With Christmas on the horizon and the decade coming to a close, it is the perfect time to rank the best Canucks of the 2010’s. This is the Canucks Advent Calendar.
Each day until Christmas I will rank one player until we have the top 25 of the 2010’s. These Vancouver icons will be ranked on their statistics, impact on the city and overall play during their time with Vancouver. Rankings will be based on the player’s Vancouver tenure during the 2010’s only, prior seasons with the team will make little impact to the rankings.
11. Kevin Bieksa (2005 – 2015)
Statistics: 597 GP, 56 G, 185 A, 241 PTS
The story of Kevin Bieksa is assuredly an unlikely one. From a fifth round pick to a top-four stud on the blue-line, Bieksa loved to defy odds as a Canuck. He was drafted during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft but wasn’t able to secure a roster spot as a pro until 2003-04. At the end of his fourth and final season playing for Bowling Green State University, Bieska would make the AHL. In his first two AHL seasons with the Manitoba Moose Bieksa recorded 41 points in 84 games.
Bieksa would hone his craft in the AHL with future NHL teammates Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler. Both Burrows and and Bieksa would get the opportunity to play portions of their 2005-06 seasons in NHL. The pair would make the most of their call-up and would remain mainstays in Vancouver throughout the following decade. Kesler would join his companions on the Canucks during the 2007-08 season. Bieksa would record only 6 points in his half-season in NHL His biggest impact came from his physical play. Bieksa was not afraid to throw his body around or drop the gloves. He finished with 77 penalty minutes through 39 games.
Legitimate NHL Player
42 points and 134 penalty minutes in his first full season with the Vancouver Canucks put Bieksa on fans’ radars. Furthermore, Bieska wasn’t just a prospect anymore, he was a 40-point top four option who was also a sparkplug. His sophomore showcase in Vancouver showed Canucks fans that they had acquired a player with a much higher ceiling than that of a typical fifth round-pick. Unfortunately, the 2007-08 season would not bring the same for the scrappy defenceman.
Bieksa would only lace up his skates for 34 games in his 2007-08 campaign. He suffered a laceration on his leg which forced him to watch from the sideline for the majority of the season. When Bieksa did get playing time, he did not perform as well compared to prior seasons. He posted 12 points and had negative plus/minus rating. With this being said, Bieksa seemed to find his rhythm once again during the 2008-09 season. His career-high was surpassed as he was able to record 43 points.
After a successful season, Bieksa would once again regress during the 2009-10 campaign. He would suffer more injuries and dressed only 55 games played when playoff-time rolled around. However, his 22 regular season points were soon forgotten after he put up eight points in 12 playoff games. This excellent playoff performance would put him in line to be one of Vancouver’s leaders for years to come.
More Prominent Leadership Role
Kevin Bieksa would become one of Vancouver’s four assistant captains during the 2010-11 season. This was incredible milestone in Bieksa’s career. Not only was this fifth round pick only becoming renowned as an NHL leader, he was a leader on the best team in the league. This was the first season in Vancouver’s first 40 years that they took home the President’s Trophy as the best team in the league. Bieksa’s highlights from this season included a career-high +32 rating and one of the most iconic goals in franchise history. Kevin Bieksa scored the overtime winner in game 5 against the San Jose Sharks to send Vancouver to the Cup Finals.
Vancouver would once again secure the President’s Trophy in the following season. Bieksa would have a strong individual showing throughout the 2011-12 season. The seasoned defenceman posted a career-high 44 points, contributing to Vancouver’s success for yet another season. The Canucks would fall in the first round of the playoffs as Bieksa posted a lone goal through five games. This season was the peak of Bieksa’s career from a offensive standpoint.
Kevin Bieksa was a Canuck through and through. Although his offensive play declined (50 points in three seasons) during his final years in blue and green he was a irreplaceable leader. He would weather the storm in Vancouver over the next few seasons until he was eventually dealt in the 2015 offseason. Bieksa was an underdog, a scrapper and a leader for the Canucks. His career defining moments came in the form of big hits, fights, off the ice antics and of course his iconic goal in 2011. For these reasons, among others, Kevin Bieksa is the 11th most impactful Canuck of the decade.
I hope that you have enjoyed this installment of the Canucks Advent Calendar! Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next player on the list!
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