Going into the free agency season, there are a lot of good players about to hit the market. It only seems fitting that after the draft of defensemen, there is a solid group of free agents to match.
There are some big names looking for some big contracts and some of these names include: Brian Campbell, Wade Redden, Paul Mara, Mark Streit, Mike Commodore, Brad Stuart, John-Michael Liles, Andrei Zyuzin, and Ron Hainsey. Adding any of these players could bolster a defense.
I did not want to talk about these players. Instead, I want to talk about some defensive units that no one seems to be talking about. These are not the best teams in league. These are just three teams I think you should keep an eye on, especially if they add one of these high profile players.
The Blackhawks had four defensemen with over 20 points and two of them played under 70 games. 24 year old, Duncan Kieth, lead Chicagowith 12G-20A-32P and a +30 plus/minus rating. Kieth is already that good at only 24, but he is not the only one. The oldest player on the Blackhawks defense is 31-year-old Brent Sopel. The remaining defensemen are all under 25, with the exception of Andrei Zyuzin who is about to leave via free agency. This defensemen core is already this good at this age and people should definitely be talking about them more.
The reason no one seems to be talking about the Wild’s defense is because they are a product of Jacques Lemaire and are expected to be as good as they are. Minnesota is lead by converted winger Brent Burns with 15G-28A-43P. The Wild, similarly to the Blackhawks, have only one player over the age of 30, after the free agent season opens up. The Wild recently added Marc-Andre Bergeron to their roster. I feel he is one of the most underrated defenseman in the league and just needs to have that breakout season to show that he is as good as I know he is.
This fascination with the Capitals is not new to me like it is for most people because I have known there was something special about this team before the start of the ’07-’08 season. There defense has 22-year-old star Mike Green leading the way with 18G-38A-56P. The Caps have 31 year old veterans Tom Poti and Brian Pothier guiding the team. It is also entirely possible that the tough leader, Karl Alzner, will join the team next year and that will only make Washington better. The Caps may be better 1-4 than Chicago and Minnesota, but they are not as good 1-6.
Each of these teams has at least five of their top six defensemen coming back next year, and they are all young and just going to get better. These teams are under the radar right now, but as good as I think they are, they will not be for long.