Our Free Agent Frenzy series continues with a look at the top 10 UFA defencemen. The class is not as star-studded as the forward group and this is especially true after the Washington Capitals re-signed John Carlson.
However, there are some players that can help teams out on the blueline. The names may not be big, but there can be some value had.
Top 10 UFA Defencemen
#1- Mike Green
Previous cap hit: $6 million, Detroit Red Wings
The biggest benefactor of Carlson’s re-signing could be the Calgary native. Green was rumoured to have been traded at the deadline, but a neck injury prevented Detroit general manager Ken Holland from making a deal.
There hasn’t been a lot of chatter about Green, but he may be getting a few more offers now that the market has opened up for his. Craig Custance of The Athletic reported that Green does have an offer from the Red Wings waiting for him.
However, Green is 32-years-old and may be on the downside of his career. Holland his handed out some questionable contracts in the past. He’ll want to keep the good puck-moving defenceman, but make sure he doesn’t overpay for Green. That could open the door for another team to give him more money.
#2- Calvin de Haan
Previous cap hit: $1,966,667. New York Islanders
The Carp, Ontario native missed a good chunk of the 2017-18 season, but was very productive when he was in the lineup. De Haan provided a goal and 13 assists for the Isles this season, which has almost half of his product of 25 points from the previous season.
David Pagnotta of The Fourth Line said that 10 teams are interested in de Haan. Injuries have been hard on the 27-year-old, but he’s still drawing plenty of interest. A healthy de Haan would be sneaky good signing for a team.
Calvin de Haan has received significant interest from upwards of 10 teams so far. He’ll be a very popular guy leading up to July 1.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 24, 2018
#3- John Moore
Previous cap hit: $1,666,667, New Jersey Devils
The Winnetka, Ill. may not play the flashiest offensive game, but he’s a good value player. Moore is 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds but is an excellent skater that can keep up with fast-paced teams.
#4- Michal Kempny
Previous cap hit: $900,000, Washington Capitals
The young Czech defender had his coming out this postseason with two goals and three assists in the Caps Stanley Cup run. Kempny is a physical presence that doesn’t shy away from contact despite his size.
Kempny has said that he wants to stay in Washington with the Capitals. He’s a good depth defenceman for that team. However, there’s some concern if Caps have enough money to give the 27-year-old a justified raise.
Previous cap hit: $4,357,143, Columbus Blue Jackets
Johnson is a solid puck-moving defenceman that has some scoring punch. The Blue Jackets may be looking to phase out the Indianapolis native and move on from him. Johnson’s offensive totals have gone down since his solid 2013-14 season.
However, he’s still coveted on the free agent market as the Pittsburgh Penguins are among the teams interested in him. He’d be a good depth defender, but he shouldn’t be getting top-pair minutes or money.
#6- Thomas Hickey
Previous cap hit: $2,200,000, New York Islanders
Another Islanders defender makes the list and it could be double the misery if they lose him and de Haan. Hickey extremely mobile and can get the puck up the ice in a hurry. He’s also fundamentally sound in his own end.
The 29-year-old is good at creating chances despite not being an ideally-sized defenceman. Hickey should also get some looks from teams looking for a bottom-pair blueliner. He could be an excellent value signing.
#7- Ian Cole
Previous cap hit: $2,100,000, Columbus Blue Jackets
The Ann Arbor, Mich. native has finally reached unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. Cole has signed two previous contracts with the St. Louis Blues and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, he may not test the market if he gets the right offer from Columbus. The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reported that Cole would stay with the Blue Jackets if both sides like the deal. Cole could be willing to give a hometown discount to the team.
#8- Alexei Emelin
Previous cap hit: $4,100,000, Nashville Predators
The Russian defender was seemingly the whipping boy with the Montreal Canadiens defensive woes after the P.K. Subban trade. Much like Subban, Emelin found a role and was a solid contributor on arguably the best group in the league.
The 32-year-old wasn’t asked to do too much and that worked out well for the Predators. He is older but can still be a decent player. It’s unlikely that he’ll be back with the club but should gain interest from clubs in need of a veteran defender.
Previous cap hit: $5,750,000, Winnipeg Jets
The writing was on the wall that Enstrom wouldn’t be back after getting healthy scratched in the playoffs. His being left out of the lineup in the Western Conference final against the Vegas Golden Knights was a surprise. However, it’s likely to be a cost-cutting measure for a team up against the salary cap.
Enstrom is on the backend of his career at 33-years-old, but he could be useful on the power play. He can be an experienced player that would bolster any young group.
#10- Dan Hamhuis
Previous cap hit: $3,750,000, Dallas Stars
Hamhuis is 35-years-old, but the thin class means he’ll still get a look from a few teams. The Smithers, British Columbia native is only one of three defencemen on TSN’s Top 75 free agent list. Green and Moore are the other two.
Hamhuis can still log plenty of minutes for a team and shut down top scorers. The Stars defence may not have been one of the better units, but he logged over 20 minutes a game for the team. He still may have a couple of good years left in him.
Main Photo: OTTAWA, ON – APRIL 04: Detroit Red Wings Defenceman Mike Green (25) waits for the faceoff during first period National Hockey League action between the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators on April 4, 2017, at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)