NHL Free Agency 2012: The Top 10 Available Defensemen
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Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators is one of the top two prizes available on the free-agent market, which opened for business on July 1 at noon.
Like forward Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils, the Tennesseean.com reports that Suter is in no hurry to sign his new deal. He is checking out all his options before he signs the best deal available.
This summer's free-agent market opened with a flurry of activity on July 1. However, there are still a number of free-agent defensemen on the market who have not signed and can help provide their potential employers with an upgrade.
Here's a look at the top 10 remaining free-agent defensemen.
1. Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators
Predators general manager David Poile wants to have Ryan Suter back, and he came at him with an offer July 1, according to the Tennesseean.com. Poile was hoping Suter would make a quick decision and re-sign with Nashville.
So far, that hasn't happened and Suter remains on the market. Suter is a solid all-around defenseman who can carry the puck, block shots and provide offense from the point. He's not going to challenge teammate Shea Weber for velocity on his his slapper, but he can bring the heat. Suter scored seven goals and added 39 assists last season, and his 46 points were a career high. Suter also finished the season with a plus-15 rating for the Preds.
2. Matt Carle, Philadelphia Flyers
Carle has been steady for the Flyers.
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Defenseman Matt Carle and the Flyers had cordial talks (according to the 700level.com) prior to the start of free agency. It looked like the two sides might sign a new deal on July 1, but it has not played out that way.
Carle is a dependable puck mover who scored four goals and 34 assists last season. Carle finished the 2011-12 season with a plus-four rating, but that figure was not impressive to Flyer fans. In 2010-11, Carle was plus-30 and didn't make as many mistakes as he made last season. However, Carle, 27, is hitting the prime of his career, and that makes him an attractive free agent.
3. Carlo Colaiacovo, St. Louis Blues
Carlo Colaiacovo played solid defense for the Blues last season.
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While Colaiacovo is no star and is not likely to develop into one, he plays hard and does not make a lot of mistakes. He was one of the Blues' most dependable defensemen last year as the team turned it around after head coach Ken Hitchcock came on board.
Colaiacovo had two goals and 17 assists last season, so he's not a major offensive threat. However, in Game 3 of the Blues' victory over the San Jose Sharks in their first-round playoff series, Colaiacovo had three assists.
4. Pavel Kubina, Philadelphia Flyers
Pavel Kubina has the size to pound forwards in the corner.
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Pavel Kubina is an old-fashioned, physical defenseman. Kubina is a 6'4", 258-pounder who can punish opponents when he gets them in the corner. He can block shots and carry the puck out of his own zone to relieve pressure, but he is not going to take it into the offensive zone unless he gets completely ignored by the opposition.
Kubina had a solid shot from the point earlier in his career and has scored as many as 17 goals in a season. He has scored three goals in each of the last two seasons.
5. Michal Rozsival, Phoenix Coyotes
Rozsival can carry the puck out of his own zone.
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Rozsival was acquired by the Coyotes in a trade with the Rangers during the middle of the 2010-11 season. Earlier in his career, Rozsival was a solid offensive contributor and scored a career-high 40 points in the 2006-07 season.
However, Rozsival, 34, is no longer the offensive force he was in his prime. That being said, he is a smart defender who can position himself well, block shots and carry the puck out of traffic.
6. Jaroslav Spacek, Carolina Hurricanes
Spacek still has the instincts to attack when there's a loose puck in the offensive zone.
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Spacek, 38, does not have a lot left in the tank, but he knows his role well and can get in the shooting lanes and battle hard for the puck in the corners. Spacek has solid offensive instincts and will leave his position to take a shot if he can get to a loose puck when the opportunity presents itself.
The problems is that he has slowed down. Spacek scored a career-high 12 goals for the Edmonton Oilers in 2006-07, but he only scored five goals last year for the Hurricanes.
7. Scott Hannan, Calgary Flames
Hannan's physical play is usually an asset.
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Hannan, 33, is not a serious offensive threat when he has the puck, but he is quite dependable. He has played 75 games or more in each season since 2000-01.
At 6'1" and 225 pounds, Hannan will use his size to throw hard body checks, but Hannan has never scored more than 21 points in a season. His career high is six goals in a season. Hannan finished with a minus-10 rating in 2011-12.
8. Chris Campoli, Montreal Canadiens
Chris Campoli will get in the shooting lanes to block shots.
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Campoli was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline in 2011 from the Ottawa Senators and was solid during the regular season for Joel Quenneville, scoring seven points in 19 games.
He also played dependable defense. However, he was ordinary in the playoffs, and the team did not attempt to bring him back last year. He signed with Montreal and scored 11 points in 43 games.
9. Kurtis Foster, Minnesota Wild
When Foster has the time and space to wind up, he has a big shot.
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Big things were expected from Kurtis Foster throughout his career because he is a big and imposing player who can wind up and deliver a hard slap shot. It was also expected that he would use his 6'5" and 226-pound frame to deliver hard checks.
Foster has struggled to make consistent contributions, though, scoring four goals this season while splitting time between Anaheim, New Jersey and Minnesota. Still, he has that big shot, and when he can wind up and step into it, he can cause problems for opposing goalies.
10. Milan Jurcina, New York Islanders
Jurcina is another big defenseman with a hard right-handed shot.
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It may take a leap of faith to sign Jurcina to a contract for the upcoming season. Jurcina struggled on the defensive end this season, and his inability to maintain positioning played a role in his minus-34 plus-minus rating.
When Jurcina is on his game, he has a solid shot from the right point, as he scored 11 points in 65 games this season. The 6'4, 240-pound Jurcina has never scored more than six goals in a season. Despite his size, he is not a dominating physical player either.