NHL Free Agents 2011: Ed Jovanovski and the 15 Best Defensemen on the Market
While 14 teams are at home, watching the playoffs on television or making tee times on the golf course, there are 16 teams in the heat of the NHL Playoffs.
Whether your team is in the playoffs or not, it's never to early to start thinking about next season. It is always nice to sign a goal scorer or a solid goaltender, but an important addition to a team will be bringing in new players to play on the defensive line. Let's look at the top 15 defensemen on the market that will make a huge impact on their new teams, if they don't stay put.
This is Ed Jovanovski's fifth season in with Phoenix. Jovanovski is one of the best free agents available this offseason, and he and the Coyotes are currently down three games to none against the Detroit Red Wings in the postseason.
The Phoenix defenseman had a very solid year. Jovanovski tallied five goals and added nine assists to end the season with 14 points. In this season alone, he finished with 87 hits and 91 blocked shots. He also finished with a plus-four rating and 39 penalty minutes. Once the playoffs end and all teams are looking to add key players, look for Jovanovski to be a major target.
The St. Louis Blues were very busy at the trade deadline. One of their key moves was trading captain Eric Brewer to the Lightning for a draft pick and a prospect. Right now, Brewer and the Lightning are down two games to one against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.
Brewer finished the regular season in Tampa Bay with 16 points, scoring nine goals and adding seven assists. He finished with 145 hits and 120 blocked shots. He spent 81 minutes in the box and ended the regular season with a plus-six rating.
In his 19th season playing defense for the Detroit Red Wings, Niklas Lidstrom is one of the best offensive-minded defensemen in the NHL. Lidstrom is another key free agent playing in the postseason. Right now, the veteran and his powerful team have a three game to none lead over the Phoenix Coyotes in the postseason.
This season, Lidstrom finished with 16 goals and added 46 assists to finished with 62 points. He finished with 49 hits and an amazing 92 blocked shots. If Lidstrom continues his outstanding career, expect Detroit to re-sign him once again.
After being dealt to Boston at the trade deadline, Tomas Kaberle has made an immediate impact in Bean Town. Boston is currently trailing two games to one to Montreal in the first round.
Only scoring four goals this year, Kaberle finished the season with 47 points. He had a great amount of assists. Kaberle also plus-four rating and spent 18 minutes in the penalty box. Kaberle is not considered a hitter, only recording 37 hits. Kaberle contributes when he blocks shots, blocking a total of 139 this season.
McCabe was traded to the Rangers from the Panthers at the deadline this season. The trade proved to payoff because McCabe and the Rangers are in the postseason, down two games to one against the Washington Capitals.
McCabe had a quality season for the Panthers and the Rangers. He scored seven goals and added 21 assists to finish the season with 28 points. He spent 34 minutes in the penalty box and posted a rating of plus-two. This season, he finished with 86 hits and 72 blocked shots.
Andrei Markov suffered a knee injury early in the season. He had surgery and has been shutdown for the remainder of the year. He played in seven games this season, scoring one goal and adding two assists. However, Markov's Canadiens are leading the Boston Bruins two games to one in this year's postseason.
Markov will be a key player for whoever he plays for next season. In the previous two seasons combined —when he was healthy—Markov scored 18 goals and totaled 80 points.
This is Hamrlik's fourth season with the Canadiens. Just like Markov, Hamrlik and the Canadiens are up two games to one against the Boston Bruins.
This season, Hamrlik scored five goals and added 29 assists to finish with 34 points. Hamrlik finished with a plus-six rating and spent a total of 81 minutes in the penalty box. He blocked a very high total of 192 shots and had 66 hits.
Joni Pitkanen is another defenseman who puts up good offensive numbers.
This past season, Joni scored five goals and added 30 assists, finishing with 35 points. Even though he finished with a minus-two rating, he still blocked an amazing 130 shots. He also recorded 66 hits and 60 minutes in the box.
Kevin Bieksa is one of the best defensemen on the market this offseason. Bieksa and the Canucks just finished their first game in the first round to the Blackhawks. They await Game 5 back in Vancouver.
This season, Bieksa scored six goals and added 16 assists to finish with 22 points. He spent 73 minutes in the penalty box, recorded 104 hits and added 93 blocked shots. Bieksa's most impressive stat is that he has a rating of plus-32 rating this season. Once the offseason hits, Bieksa will be someone that will get a lot of attention.
James Wisniewski is a defenseman that will help greatly on offense. Wisniewski was traded from the New York Islanders to the Montreal Canadiens at the deadline. Right now, he and his team have a two to one lead over the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
Like I said above, Wisniewski will help a lot on the offensive side. This season, he scored 10 goals and added 41 assists to finish with 51 points. He spent 38 minutes in the penalty box and had a minus-14 rating. He recorded 108 hits and had 119 blocked shots.
In his second season with the Vancouver Canucks, Christian Ehrhoff put up great offensive numbers. Right now, Ehrhoff and the Canucks are going to Game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ehrhoff finished the year with 50 points. He scored 14 goals and recorded 36 assists. He spent 52 minutes in the penalty box and had a plus-19 rating. Ehrhoff also blocked 108 shots and added 54 hits.
Ian White was traded to San Jose from Carolina at the NHL Trade Deadline. Right now, his Sharks are tied at one game apiece with the Kings in the first round of the playoffs.
White had a solid year on defense. He scored four goals and added 22 assists to finish with 26 points. He finished with a plus-three rating and 26 minutes in the penalty box. He also had 59 hits and blocked a total of 144 shots.
Brent Sopel was traded from the Atlanta Thrashers to the Canadiens at the trade deadline. Sopel does not really contribute on the offensive side of the puck, but he is a real key on defense.
This season, he only scored two goals and added five assists to finish with seven points. He had a plus-six rating and spent 16 minutes in the penalty box. Sopel recorded 36 hits and blocked a total of 152 shots.
Montador is a solid offensive and defensive defenseman. Right now, the Sabres and Montador are down two games to one in the first round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers.
This season, Montador scored five goals and added 21 assists to finish with 26 points. He had a rating of plus-16 and spent 83 minutes in the penalty box. Montador blocked 138 shots and 66 hits.
In his first season with the Flyers, Sean O'Donnell and Philadelphia are up two games to one in the first round against the Buffalo Sabres.
This season, Sean scored only one goal but added 16 assists to finish with 17 points. Sean had a plus-eight rating and spent 87 minutes in the penalty box. Sean blocked 76 shots and had 53 hits.