VANCOUVER, BC - MAY 18: Kevin Bieksa #3 of the Vancouver Canucks prepares to throw a punch at Patrick Marleau #12 of the San Jose Sharks in the second period in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 18, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Who Is This Guy?
Aka Juice. He is a key member of the Canucks defensive Top 4.
Weight: 206 pounds
Born: June 16, 1981 in Grimsby, ON
Drafted: 151st overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2001 Entry Draft.
What Did He Do?
He's one of the most controversial figures on the team, with absolutely no middle ground when it comes to opinion. People either love him or hate him. He can look all world one minute, and downright awful the next. He also may well be the funniest guy in the NHL, especially after punking a Fox Sports radio reporter, making the guy believe he was actually Ryan Kesler. In the absence of Christian Ehrhoff, he was one of the D who most notably stepped up his offensive game, doubling his output from last season and notching career highs in assists and points.
Was He Any Good?
On the one hand, a player doubling their offence has to be impressive. He also came as close to playing a complete season as he's done in 5 years now, another positive. I know it's a fairly useless and meaningless stat, but his +/- dropped 10 points from last year despite doubling his offence, that should give you a clue though about the next section.
What I Didn't Like:
When Juice is good, he's a really good defenceman. When he's bad? It's a car wreck. Flaming car wreck. It really seems like when he screws up, it's in such a spectacular style there's little arguement over whether or not it was his fault. You always know. Defensively he really struggled this season, and our pal Cam Charron outlined this back in November already just how bad of a start he was off to, but was able to turn around his PDO as the season went on. He's an underrated Dman, but consistency was a bit of an issue this season.
I wonder if there was some times where his struggles were affected by the suicide of his close friend Rick Rypien over the summer. Just speculation, but how many of us would be able to just move on with out lives after a tragedy like that, especially after the playoffs the Canucks went through? I believe his season mirrored the team's: Some things seemed to be good, others not so much.
So, What Now?
Juice signed a 5 year contract extension shortly after the playoffs ended last season, and will make 5 million this upcoming season. He's got 4 years remaining on this deal. Personally I hope he plays more with Dan Hamhuis next season, as the Ham Juice pairing was where we seemed to see Juice at his best.
Did You Know...
Juice was one of many of the Canucks core who took a paycut to stay in Vancouver. In spite of his flaws, he's still a remarkably underrated defenceman, and a key to future success with this team.