NHL Free agency is just around the corner on July 1st and there are a lot of players available to sign with new teams. This article will focus on the top six to 10 unrestricted NHL free agent defensemen that will be hitting the open market on Saturday (if they are not re-signed by their current team beforehand).
There are some pretty good NHL free agents that will be going to new teams, so let’s take a look at the top six to 10 defensemen options.
10. Dmitry Kulikov:
Kulikov will get a chance to start fresh somewhere after a season in Buffalo where he only played 47 games. He’s already getting calls from teams who want to see if he can play like the way he did earlier in his career when he was putting up close to 30 points a season.
The biggest thing for him will be staying healthy as he’s always missed portions of each season he’s been in the league except for 2013-2014. Possession wise he’s 48.7% for his career which isn’t too good. Teams should be wary with him as I wouldn’t want to give him too much term or money because of health.
9. Ron Hainsey:
Hainsey won’t be returning to the Penguins after being traded there during the season. Hainsey was used too much in Pittsburgh since Kris Letang was out and it’s possible his stock went down a bit.
If he’s on a teams bottom pairing, then that’s perfectly fine as he can get sheltered minutes and not make too many mistakes. He was playing top pairing minutes with the Penguins and it was killing him every game. The term on his contract should only be for a couple seasons as he’s 36.
8. Michael Stone:
After being acquired by the Flames around the trade deadline, Stone struggled and he only had six points in 19 games. Before that, he wasn’t doing much better as he only had nine points in 45 games.
He’s not known for his offensive ability as most teams will value him as a defensive defenseman. His possession was dreadful this year as it was a lowly 42.6% in Arizona before getting traded and then 45.5% in Calgary.
He’s still likely going to receive plenty of offers from teams since they’ll value how he plays in his own zone. He won’t provide much offense but look for him to still get a multi-year contract.
7. Cody Franson:
Franson’s two-year deal with Buffalo is up and again, he’ll be hitting the open market. He’s struggled a lot to produce in Buffalo where he only had 36 combined points in the two seasons he was there. In 2014-2015 with Toronto, he had 36 points for the entire season.
Teams will definitely come calling on him as he could definitely be a bounce-back candidate. He has a lot of offensive ability which is shown from his time in Toronto. There may be a bit of a risk involved but there’s no reason why a contending team shouldn’t sign him to a two or three year deal.
6. Michael Del Zotto:
After three seasons in Philadelphia, Del Zotto will hit the open market as it’s unlikely that the Flyers will be bringing him back. He was able to rise his stock a bit during the time he was with the Flyers. In his first season there, he had ten goals and 32 points but then his point fell off a bit. This past season, he had six goals and 18 points in just over 50 games. His possession was 50.5% which is alright.
He’s a good puck-moving defenseman and if you play him either in the middle pairing or bottom pairing, you’ll get the most out of him. He just needs to stay healthy for a full season.