3 free agent defenders worth grabbing a flyer

As free agency approached, there were several big names on the move, including (and still include) players like Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri, Claude Giroux, David Perron, Ondrej Palat and Darcy Kuemper. Although they are all great players, none of them are defenders.

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The market had plenty of talented forwards and goalkeepers, but there weren’t a ton of defenders up for grabs. John Klingberg led the way, although he was recently picked up by the Anaheim Ducks. Josh Manson and Ben Chiarot were also intriguing names, but they’re no longer available either.

That said, while there weren’t as many good defensemen as in other years, a few still have value. In fact, for teams considering adding a defender to their roster, there are some intriguing names yet to be won. Here are three that could benefit a few teams in the league.

PK Subban

Although he is no longer the Norris Trophy defender almost a decade ago, PK Subban isn’t as bad as some have lately suggested. Sure, his $9 million cap was way too high for what he’s provided over the past few seasons, but disregard his salary, and he’s still a very capable NHL defenseman and all the days.

PK Subban, New Jersey Devils (Jess Star/The Hockey Writers)

Subban, 33, played 77 games for the New Jersey Devils last season, scoring five goals and 22 points. While those stats don’t jump off the page, 21 of those points came at even strength as he was used sparingly on the power play throughout the season.

Although no longer a top-tier defender, Subban is still capable of playing regular minutes. In fact, in the 2020-21 season, he averaged north of 22 minutes per game in 44 outings. That number fell to 18:18 last season, but still shows he can be an everyday player on a third pair. He should have no problem finding a new home before training camp begins.

Anton Stralman

For years and years, Anton Stralman was one of the most underrated defenders. in the NHL. In the first four of his five seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning (2014-2018), he averaged over 21 minutes per game and was consistently knocked out against top opposition players.

Anton Stralman Arizona Coyotes
Anton Stralman, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As with all players, however, age has started to slow the 36-year-old who just turned 36 over the past two seasons, signing his final deal with a cap of $5.5m overpay. . That said, he’s been quietly solid in 2021-22 as a member of the Arizona Coyotes. Despite being part of a team that ranked dead last in the NHL in goals scored, he had a respectable 23 points in 74 games while ranking third on the list with an average of 21:20. minutes of ice time.

Stralman, like Subban, is also a right-hander, which GMs and coaches greatly appreciate at the back. While he may have to remain patient as teams figure out their cap situations, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back on an NHL roster for the 2022-23 season.

Calvin de Haan

There are few NHL defensemen who have felt the the anger of their fanbase more than Calvin de Haan in his three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. The injury-prone guard cap reached during that time was $4.55 million, which certainly didn’t help, nor did the Blackhawks’ struggles for most of his time with the club.

At no point in his career was de Haan considered a point-producing defenseman, but all of the offensive skills he showed early in his NHL career are gone. Last season he managed just four goals and eight points in 69 games, so any team inquiring about his services will be well aware that they didn’t bring in someone to move the needle offensively. . What they will get, however, is a responsible defender who stays at home and who, with a cheaper contract than his previous one, can still provide value.

Calvin de Haan Chicago Blackhawks
Calvin de Haan, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last season, de Haan averaged just under 19 minutes per game, including 17:16 at even strength. His even-strength ice time was fifth among Blackhawks skaters, behind only Jake McCabe, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy and Seth Jones. He’s also averaged over 1:30 minutes per game shorthanded and is more than capable of assisting when downed by a man. Whether or not he will have a contract in place by the start of training camp remains to be seen, but if he does, he has a great chance of proving himself to be a better defender than what has given him. was recently awarded.

Thin pickings available

After these three players, there are hardly any defenders left on the open market. This means that if a GM realizes they need to add one to their roster, they will need to act quickly. While many will be quick to point out that all three are on the last nine of their careers, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that they can still contribute when put in the right situation, something they each hope for. happen this coming season.

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