Six weeks into the 2011 postseason, Kevin Bieksa is no longer the "odd man out." When Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis acquired defensemen Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis last summer, the realities of the salary cap indicated that Bieksa, a pending unrestricted free agent without a no-trade clause, would be moved elsewhere. Instead, an injury to Sami Salo gave Vancouver the cap relief it needed to keep Bieksa, whose playoff performance so far has been nothing less than phenomenal.
His five goals through the first three rounds of the postseason are only one behind his regular-season total of six in 66 games. One of those goals rounded out his Gordie Howe hat trick (goal-assist-fight) in Game 2 versus San Jose, while another one was simply the double-overtime game winner in Game 5 to clinch the series and move Vancouver on to its first Stanley Cup finals in 17 years.