2012 NHL Free Agents: The Top 12 Defensemen on the Market and Where They'll Go
2012 NHL Free Agency is opening up in just a few short days on July 1st and with some of the top defensemen now on the market, there will be a lot of pull for these players. According to CBSSports.com, there are 18 defensemen on the list of top 50 NHL free agents, making it the position with the most amount of available players.
Teams looking for a stronger defensive anchor on the ice can look to these top 12 defensemen when it comes time to make trades and take down signatures.
1. Ryan Suter
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Ryan Suter is a veteran of the Nashville Predators and displayed great play in the playoffs this season.
He is ranked as the No. 1 defensive commodity on the CBSSports.com top 50 free agents list. Everyone is looking at Suter and where he’ll end up.
Suter was a key factor for the Predators’ defensive strength. Based on rumors and needs, it looks like the Dallas Stars could really use a defensive leader like Suter.
It seems like that’s where he will most likely end up and that could be a very good thing—Suter has seen a great improvement in his personal statistics within the past few years.
2. Matt Carle
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He provided two goals and four assists for the Flyers and is a consistent defensive stronghold for the Flyers’ blue line (via CBSSports.com).
According to Rotoworld.com, it looks like Carle will likely resign with the Flyers.
Rightly so, with only four years with the Flyers, Carle has time and room to develop with the team.
3. Dennis Wideman
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Dennis Wideman was a big question mark for the Washington Capitals, but towards the end of the season, it didn’t seem like the Caps were in dire need of his defensive services. With 11 goals this past season, Wideman is a defenseman who can attack from all sides.
According to nhltradereport.com, the Detroit Red Wings could be interested in Wideman.
4. Bryan Allen
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According to CBSSports.com, Allen does not produce goals when transitioning on the attack, but he did provide “steady defensive play” for the Carolina Hurricanes.
According to nhltradereport.com, both the Dallas Stars and the Detroit Red Wings might be interested in picking up Allen.
5. Jason Garrison
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Jason Garrison finished the 2011-2012 season with a total of 16 goals and 17 assists, a career high for the young player with just three years of experience. The defenseman’s skill set includes strong passing and powerful shots.
Garrison is leaving the Florida Panthers, but rumors from nhltradereport.com report that Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon could possibly have a deal to keep Garrison on the roster.
If not the Panthers, maybe the Carolina Hurricanes? We’ll see on July 1st.
6. Justin Schultz
Justin Schultz is possibly one of the hottest names on the free-agent list right now. The defenseman from the University of Wisconsin is entering his NHL career as an unrestricted free agent.
And he’s got everyone’s attention.
The rookie bypassed the draft and will be picked up on July 1st along with all the other free agent veterans. According to Adam Kimelman from NHL.com, Schultz is every bit as good as the praise and attention he is receiving. Kimelman quoted Craig Button speaking on his analysis of Justin Shultz:
“He has great awareness and poise with the puck..he’s an excellent passer and he has tht panoramic vision that allows him to spread the ice, so to speak, and to be able to attack opponents with multiple options..overall, he is a player who is capable of controlling the pace and tempo of play when he has the puck...I think he has a chance to be a top end defenseman."
Sounds like he’s on the top of every team’s to-do list for July 1st.
There’s not a lot of certainty on where Schultz will end up. But for now, it looks like the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers or the Vancouver Canucks.
Okay but let’s be honest, who isn’t interested in Schultz right now?
7. Pavel Kubina
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The 35-year-old Philadelphia Flyer is a well-seasoned defenseman with 13 years of experience under his belt. After spending only one season with the Flyers, he finished up with three goals and 12 assists in 2011-2012.
He did not make a huge impact on the attack,3 but provided some assistance on the defensive end. The Flyers are likely to resign Kubina and that will give him time to develop and mold to the Flyers defense (via Mark Easson on mynhltraderumors.com).
Hopefully, the 2012-2013 season will see a stronger, more aggressive Kubina on defense.
8. Hal Gill
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The defenseman for the Nashville Predators suffered an injury towards the end of the regular season, but he is expected to recover over the summer after becoming a free agent.
According to nhltradereport.com, there is no doubt that Gill will remain with the Nashville Predators.
9. Sheldon Souray
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According to CBSSports.com, analysts saw a successful season from Sheldon Souray with his first year on the Dallas Stars.
The defenseman showed promising play with six goals and 15 assists last season. In addition, “Souray reportedly rejected a one-year, $3 million contract offer from Dallas”.
Since he won’t be returning, it looks like Souray could end up on...who knows?
Even with his experience, the 14-year veteran defenseman might not have many other options waiting for him.
10. Filip Kuba
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After providing six goals and 26 assists this past season for the Ottawa Senators, the free agent doesn’t look like he will re-sign with the team.
For the consistent veteran defenseman with fairly good numbers, it’s surprising that the Senators will move on from having him on the roster.
But, after four years in Ottawa, it’s time for Filip Kuba to move on and there other teams who could use his skill set on defense...like the Detroit Red Wings (via Mark Easson from mynhltraderumors.com).
11. Chris Campoli
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Chris Campoli will be one of the interesting defenseman trades in the upcoming free agency.
Campoli has just six years of experience and is a fresh player coming from the Montreal Canadiens.
He played 43 games in the 2011-2012 season and had two goals and nine assists. Much more is to be expected from Campoli who has logged higher statistics in the past.
12. Scott Hannan
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Scott Hannan logged two goals and 10 assists in the 2011-2012 season. In an analysis from CBSSports.com, Hannan is said to be “solid defensively but is not much of a scorer".
Hannan will be appealing to a team looking for strong, reliable defense, but is comfortable enough on the attacking front.
A possible taker? The Boston Bruins (via nhltradereport.com).