Defensemen are always in high demand during the annual free-agency period, and the fate of certain teams is often based disproportionally on how well they do after July 1.
This year, teams may initially chase aging veterans like Kimmo Timonen and Andrei Markov, but ultimately settle for lesser-known second pairing types like Ron Hainsey and Tom Gilbert. Where do they all rank?
To answer that, I developed a system that was previously used to look at both centers and wingers. Essentially, I took a list of free-agent wingers from Cap Geek, and then estimated each player's value using a weighted historical average of each player's goals versus threshold (GVT), a high-level one-number stat provided by Hockey Prospectus.
The critical final step is to locate each defenseman on a player usage chart. That provides the proper context for each player, serving to push down the value of those who play easier minutes, like Dan Boyle, in favor of those who handle their team's tougher assignments.
Interpreting all this information, I have identified the 10 best available free-agent defensemen, along with their strengths and weaknesses, and identified what they could be worth. As always, please be sure to weigh in on these rankings in the comments. Let's begin!
All usage data is from Extra Skater, and all other advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.