Two weeks after Canucks President Trevor Linden said Alex Biega would not be returning to Utica this season, the defenseman received another vote of confidence: A two year, one-way contract extension. According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, Biega will earn $700,000 next season and $800,000 in 2017-18.
I believe the cap hit of $750,000 is good value for a player, who has proven he can stick at the NHL level. Injuries to defencemen Dan Hamhuis and Luca Sbisa, combined with inconsistent play from Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber, have allowed Biega to become a regular for a Canucks team that is still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot - coming out of the All-Star Break they are two points behind Arizona for third in the Pacific Division.
Biega’s story is worth admiring. A fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2006, the Montreal native signed with the Canucks as an unrestricted free agent in 2013. After spending a full season with the AHL Comets, he made his NHL debut with Vancouver on Feb. 16, 2015 scoring the game-winning goal against the Minnesota Wild. You can’t help but feel happy for players when they make the most of their second crack at earning an NHL job.
Since becoming a mainstay in the lineup at the start of December, Biega has proven to be a trustworthy piece on the Canucks back end. Not known for his offensive production, (4 assists in 25 games this season) it has been his play in the defensive zone that has impressed many observers.
His lack of size may have scared some observers at first, but he has proved he belongs in the lineup on a nightly basis. For an organization that seemingly lacked defensive depth in their system coming into this season, the emergence of Biega and fellow rookie Ben Hutton have been welcome signs. Given all the criticism Linden and GM Jim Benning have received for handing out expensive contracts to the likes of Sbisa and Brandon Sutter (just to name a couple), locking up Biega for a mere $1.5 million over two years is a very smart move.