Monday, January 26, 2009

UFA Defensemen

Major UFA Defensemen:

Adrian Aucoin(Calgary): Aucoin is nearing the end of the line of his career but still has a couple of serviceable years left in him, particularly as a powerplay specialist as he has a big shot from the point. Not sure if Calgary will bring him back.(Possible Destinations: Chicago, Montreal, NYI, Calgary)

Francois Beauchemin(Anaheim): Unfortunately for Francois, the forgotten man in Anaheim behind Niedermayer and Pronger, he tore his ACL early in the season and it knocked him out for the year. While the only time he’s put up big points is playing with one of the big 2 on the powerplay, he’s very good defensively and puts up decent numbers on his own. Not sure if Anaheim will give him a long term deal coming of an injury but I think he’ll stay in California.(Possible Destinations: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto)

Rob Blake(San Jose): Veteran that is now on retirement watch at the end of every season has revitalized his career in San Jose putting up big numbers on the powerplay and his play in his own end has improved back to his standards. If San Jose wins the Stanley Cup I believe Blake will retire or go back to LA but if they simply come close I think he’ll come back for one more year in San Jose.(Possible Destinations: San Jose, Los Angeles, retirement)

Jay Bouwmeester(Florida): Probably the top blueliner on the marker. Young at 25 and extremely talented, he’s a very fluid skater and great offensively. If you took Chris Pronger, gave him better skating, made him less physical and took ten years of wear and tear off of him you’d have Jay Bouwmeester. Some people believe he’s looking to go back to western Canada but with Calgary already against the cap and the Oilers with 15 million tied up in their blueline per season already, unless the Oil move one of their D I don’t see it. If they do it could very well happen, and he’s all but made it clear he won’t be back in Florida. He’ll cost at least 7 million per.(Possible Destinations: Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa)

Mike Komisarek(Montreal): The #2 dman headed for free agency, he’s probably the complete opposite of Bouwmeester. He’s a good skater with a good first pass but not much offence to his game but he makes up for that by being one of the top physical dmen in the game. ‘Komi’ is one of the top 5 defensive defensemen in the game. I believe he’ll re-sign in Montreal for between 3.5 and 5 million, although if negotiations fall through his hometown Islanders could be a dark horse.(Potential Destinations: Montreal, NYI, NYR, Los Angeles)

Filip Kuba(Ottawa): Kuba is probably the only defenseman on the Senators that can actually skate and make a good first pass on the rush. Making 3 million per season he’ll probably require a healthy raise to about 5 million cause defensemen like him are in high demand. The Senators would be smart to lock him up.(Possible Destinations: Ottawa, Anaheim, Vancouver, Florida)

Mattias Ohlund(Vancouver): Ohlund is a physical, talented defenseman who makes good first passes and can play on the powerplay. He also provides good veteran leadership and could be of value to a young team like Los Angeles. But he’s been in Vancouver his whole career so I see him coming back.(Possible Destinations: Vancouver, Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit)

Sergei Zubov(Dallas): A lot of people have blamed the disaster that is the Dallas Stars on Sean Avery but the loss of Sergei Zubov to injury until recently can’t be understated. With Phillipe Boucher not being the player he once was and eventually being traded to Pittsburgh, the offense and powerplay rely heavily and Zubov. He’s got a couple of years left on his career but has become very injury prone recently. He’ll probably re-sign in Dallas or retire.(Possible Destinations: Dallas, retirement)

Jordan Leopold(Colorado): After putting up decent numbers he looked like he was ready to explode upon his arrival in Colorado but he’s been buried behind John-Michael Liles on the PP so he hasn’t reached his potential. He’ll probably need a change in scenery to reach the next level, otherwise he’ll be considered a huge underachiever.(Possible Destinations: Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Minnesota)

Scott Niedermayer(Anaheim): The second best defenseman of his generation behind Nick Lidstrom, after flirting with retirement it sounds like he’s rediscovered his passion for the game and wants to sign a new deal in Anaheim although with his brother a UFA as well they may sign together elsewhere like back home in Vancouver, or he may choose to finish back in New Jersey.(Possible Destinations: Anaheim, New Jersey, Vancouver)

Mathieu Schneider(Atlanta): Another aging defensemen who’s very good offensively and knows enough tricks of the trade to still be good in his own end although playing on a brutal Thrashers team this season seems to have worn on him. I think he’ll sign with a contender for one last kick at the can after this season.(Possible Destinations: Montreal, Boston, Washington, San Jose)

Trade Dealine Candidates: Schneider, Leopold, Ohlund, Kuba, Zubov

Other notable UFA Defensemen: Christian Backman, Francis Boullion, Nick Boynton, Mathieu Dandenault, Steve Eminger, Hal Gill, Niclas Havelid, Shane Hnidy, Kent Huskins, Paul Mara, Johnny Oduya, Dennis Seidenberg, Jaro Spacek, Darryl Sydor, Greg Zanon, Derek Morris.

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