Could Bieksa be headed to Washington?

Kevin Bieksa misses a game with the flu, everybody wonders if he’s really sick and the trade winds start blowing again. While it was confirmed Sunday that the Vancouver Canucks defenceman has been battling flu-like symptoms for two weeks and was bed-ridden, it hasn’t stopped speculation that his days here are numbered.

This is not new.

This time, the winds of change are howling out of Washington where the Capitals are seeking a defenceman. They had offseason interest in Bieksa and are willing to part with under-achieving 26-year-old forward Tomas Fleischmann. He played 13 minutes Sunday in a 3-2 victory over Carolina, but has just four goals in 22 games and is a pending unrestricted free agent. Fleischmann, who started the season as the Capitals’ second-line centre, was also a healthy scratch in a Nov. 17 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Bieksa, 29, has been inconsistent with one goal, a plus-2 rating and 21 penalty minutes in 21 outings and is also a pending UFA. His name was churned out in the offseason rumour mill when the Canucks acquired Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis before learning that Sami Salo would be lost to an Achilles rupture on July 22.

The Capitals also have $3.72 million US in cap space and could absorb the difference between the $3.75 million that Bieksa is earning and the $2.6 million that Fleischmann is pocketing.

And although the Canucks are encouraged by the performance of Jeff Tambellini who’s on a two-way contract, the 6-foot-1, 192 pound Fleischmann had 23 goals last season. There’s also the roster exit of Peter Schaefer for not reporting to the minors and Rick Rypien on indefinite leave for personal reasons to consider.

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