When you have eight NHL defencemen under contract and are still set to re-sign Shane O’Brien, rumours are bound to follow. When you’re the #6 d-man on the depth chart and making $3.75 million, chances are you’ll be the guy talked about in those rumours. I’m speaking of course of Kevin Bieksa, who was rumoured to be on the trade block by yours truly after the Keith Ballard trade and is now being rumoured all over the place. Despite the fact that Mike Gillis isn’t confirming that Bieksa is being shopped, you have to believe he is.
But where could he be headed? What could be coming back in return? Well, the Columbus Dispatch has done their best to shine a light on it. The Columbus newspaper is reporting that Nikita Filatov could be headed to Vancouver in return for Bieksa. Bieksa would give the Blue Jackets an offensive defenceman that they desperately need. The Canucks would shed cap space and add Filatov, a young skilled Russian forward set to be a $2.196 million cap hit this season. Filatov was picked 6th overall in the 2008 draft (four spots ahead of Cody Hodgson) and played in the KHL last season. He’d be a bit risky to take on, given the fact he could bolt to Russia if he is unhappy about his playing time or life in North America. There’s also the question as to whether or not Filatov would be good enough to play on the team’s top two lines this year or if he has the grit to play on their third line.
Regardless, if this is an offer that’s sitting on the table I think Mike Gillis absolutely has to take it. The upside of Filatov is huge, and snapping him up could pay off huge. Imagine Filatov, Hodgson and Schroeder all developing at the same time and making entry level money. If they were to all pan out (that’s a big ‘if’ I know), the Canucks would be sitting pretty.