2011 NHL Free Agency: Defensemen

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christian ehrhoff

TOP NHL DEFENSEMAN FREE AGENTS

 

There is no real baseball being played right now, despite what Bud Selig wants us to think.  There is no action in the NBA or NFL with both locked out and barred from their sport.  The only real sport still rolling is the NHL.  With the free agency period a little more than a week and a half old, the top players of the class have been signed to the big contracts, the accompanying pieces have been signed, and we have a general sense of what every NHL team’s line ups come this fall.  It’s time to take a look at where  the top players signed  and what more to expect this NHL offseason.  To see who the top defenseman are and where they went, continue after the jump.

 

Bryan Vickroy

 

Let’s take a look at the top ten free agents at the defense position, and who they’ve signed new contracts with this offseason.  Green font indicates a player who has not yet been signed.

 

 

 

Defenseman

 

 

1.  Nicklas Lidstrom

Detroit Red Wings -> Detroit Red Wings (1 year, $6.2 mil)
It’s obvious that Lidstrom was either going to retire, or come back to the Detroit Red Wings.  After taking a few weeks to think about, and seeing teammate Bryan Rafalski retire, Lidstrom signed an identical one year contract to the one he signed last season.  Lidstrom continues to be the heart of the Red Wing dynasty, and winning yet another Norris Trophy for his play this past season shows he still is one of the most dominant players in the game.

 

 

2.  Christian Ehrhoff

Vancouver Canucks -> Buffalo Sabres (10 years, $40 mil)

Ehrhoff was a high priced asset brought in by the new ownership, and the long term contract most likely means he will be paired with Tyler Myers as the top defensive pairing for years to come in Buffalo.  Ehrhoff has a strong offensive game when healthy, and should be able to utilize his speed in the different style of the Eastern Conference.

 

 

 

james wisniewski

 

3.  James Wisniewski

Montreal Canadiens -> Columbus Blue Jackets (6 years, $33 mil)

Wisniewski has been traded around the league a few times in his short career, and has yet to show a consistent offensive punch for any team.  But Wisniewski is tough, strong, and gives Columbus a player who isn’t afraid to lay out anyone.  Wisniewski brings some physicality to a Blue Jackets roster who really has never had anyone to properly protect superstar Rick Nash.

 

 

4.  Tomas Kaberle

Boston Bruins -> Carolina Hurricanes  (3 years, .75 mil)

Kaberle won a Stanley Cup this year with Boston, but it became obvious that he would be too expensive to bring back.  Kaberle didn’t sign immediately when the free agent period started, but eventually found a home in Carolina.  Kaberle will continue to deliver offensively, and should be a good fint with the Hurricanes.

 

 

5.  Eric Brewer

Tampa Bay Lightning -> Tampa Bay Lightning  (4  years, mil)

Brewer only joined the Lightning just before the trade deadline this year, but immediately became the Tampa’s most important defenseman, leading the team in average ice time per game.  Brewer isn’t the strongest offensively, but is one of the best shutdown defensemen playing, and gives the Lightning two legitimate All Star defensemen in Brewer and Victor Hedman.

 

 

6.  Joni Pitkanen

Carolina Hurricanes -> Carolina Hurricanes  (3 years, .5 mil)

Pitkanen has finally found a place he feels comfortable in Carolina, and the familiarity, along with the money, keeps Pitkanen around for three more years.  Pitkanen will run the power play, and is a strong passer who will pile up the assists as the season goes along.

 

 

 

ian white

 

7.  Ian White

San Jose Sharks -> Detroit Red Wings  (2 years, .75 mil)

White may not be the biggest player in the world, but he isn’t afraid to throw his body around and and protect his own net.  White can contribute offensively occasionally, but is better known for his defensive skills and mean streak.  White is a physical player who brings so grit to a slick Red Wings roster.

 

 

8.  Anton Babchuk

Calgary Flames -> Calgary Flames (2 years, $5 mil)

Babchuk can be a strong defensive player at times, but he also can seem moody and disinterested in hockey in North America, and has gone back to Russia to play twice already in his career.  The Flames defensive corps are all big and tall, and Babchuk is the biggest, and possibly most offensively gifted, of them all.

 

 

9.  Roman Hamrlik

Montreal Canadiens -> Washington Capitals (2 years, mil)

Hamrlik is an experienced veteran who possesses a blistering shot from the point.  He will contribute a handful of goals each year, and is a good bet to get about 30 points a season.  Going to Washington, he will bring leadership to the blue liners, and hopefully help teach them to think defense first.

 

 

10.  Ed Jovanovski

Phoenix Coyotes -> Florida Panthers (4 years, .5 mil)

Jovanovski is a former #1 overall pick back in 1994 of the Florida Panthers, and will be returning to the franchise he started his career with.  Jovo Cop is getting a little older, but is still smart and one of the better shut down defensemen playing today.  While the years and money may seem like a lot, Jovanovski is a deserving player to get one last pay day before he retires.

 

 

bryan vickroy the sports bank

Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms.  He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey all year long.  Look for new articles throughout the week.  He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy.  If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at bryan.vickroy@gmail.com .

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