Bieksa for Fleischmann: Why and Why Not
By now, you’ve all heard of the Kevin Bieksa trade rumor that has the Canucks defenseman going to the Washington Capitals for forward Tomas Fleischmann. Here are a couple of quick thoughts.
At first glance, Fleischmann doesn’t seem to fit the Canucks’ remaining roster needs. Ideally the Canucks would still make improvements to their penalty-kill and defensive depth; unfortunately, he doesn’t solve either of those issues. While fast and skilled, Fleischmann has a reputation for being a perimeter player and ineffective forechecker. His $2.6 million salary also provides little cap relief to the Canucks, a key factor because clearing cap space is one of their key reasons for having to trade Bieksa in the first place.
So why would Mike Gillis consider this trade?
Fleischmann may not be big or gritty, but he is still a 20-goal, 50-point guy and his addition to the Canucks lineup will give them the ability to roll three scoring lines. Basically, the hope is that he could provide the offense that Pavol Demitra couldn’t last season.
The fact is, goal-scorers don’t grow on trees and Fleischmann is a goal-scorer. In fact, as a UFA-to-be after the 2010/2011 season, he may be the kind of player that contending teams target at the trade deadline to increase their depth in the postseason. Except in this case, the Canucks would acquire him in the summer and avoid overpaying for him in March. Certainly, giving up Kevin Bieksa for a top-six forward now seems more reasonable than giving up, say, a good prospect and a high draft pick(s) for the same player in March.
Fleischmann may or may not be a perfect fit for what the Canucks are looking for, and if Washington is indeed Bieksa’s destination, there are other Caps players who could fit those roles better (e.g. Chimera, Steckel). However, given the choice, would you much rather Mike Gillis trades a top-four defenseman who has garnered considerable interest around the league in Bieksa for a top-six forward or dump him for a role player plus picks?