Wednesday, June 13, 2007

2007 UFAs
On the blueline


Player Tm GP Pts 2006-07 cap hit 2007-08 est. price
1 Souray Mon 81 64 $2.318 $5.5 - 7 1-2
2 Timonen Nas 80 55 $2.375 $5 - 6 1-2
3 Rafalski NJ 82 55 $4.200 $4.5 - 5.5 1-2
4 Schneider Det 68 52 $3.300 $4 - 5 1-2
5 Hannan SJ 79 24 $2.157 $3.4 - 4 1-2
6 Stuart Cal 75 22 $2.150 $2.8 - 3.3 1-2
7 Rivet SJ 71 24 $2.565 $2.5 - 3.5 1-2
8 Poti NYI 78 44 $2.750 $2.5 - 3 3-4
9 Hamrlik Cal 75 38 $3.500 $2.5 - 3 3-4
10 D. Markov Det 66 16 $2.500 $2 - 3 3-4
11
Sarich
TB
82
15
$1.900
$2 - 3
3-4
12 O'Donnell Ana 79 17 $1.634 $2 - 2.5 3-4
13 Sutton Atl 55 16 $1.900 $2 - 2.5 3-4
14 Miller LA 82 8 $2.470 $2 - 2.5 3-4
15 De Vries Atl 82 24 $2.166 $1.8 - 2.3 3-4
16 Numminen Buf 79 29 $2.600 $1.8 - 2.2 3-4
17 Tjarnqvist Edm 37 15 $1.625 $1.5 - 2.2 3-4
18 Preissing Ott 80 38 $0.550 $1.5 - 2 3-4
19 Sopel Van 64 28 $2.400 $1.5 - 2 3-4
20 Sydor Dal 74 21 $2.128 $1.5 - 2 3-4
21 Modry LA 76 18 $1.824 $1.5 - 2 3-4
22 Vaananen Col 74 8 $0.998 $1.5 - 2 3-4
23 Skoula Min 81 15 $1.575 $1.1 - 1.5 5-6
24 Tanabe Car 60 17 $0.900 $1 - 1.5 5-6
25 Lukowich NJ 75 12 $1.000 $1 - 1.5 5-6
26 Vishnevski Nas 67 13 $1.550 $0.8 - 1.3 5-6
27 DiPenta Ana 76 8 $0.500 $0.8 - 1.2 5-6
28 Pratt TB 81 8 $0.625 $0.8 - 1.2 5-6
29 Berard Cmb 11 3 $2.250 $0.8 - 1.2 5-6
30
Niinimaa Mon 41 3 $2.470 $0.8 - 1.2 5-6
31 Ozolinsh NYR 21 3 $2.750 $0.8 - 1.2 5-6
32 Heward LA 71 24 $0.675 $0.8 - 1 5-6
33 Robidas Dal 75 17 $0.550 $0.8 - 1 5-6
34 Melichar Pit 70 12 $0.725 $0.8 - 1 5-6
35 Brisebois Col 33 11 $2.250 $0.8 - 1 5-6
36 Klee Col 81 19 $0.700 $0.7 - 1 5-6
37 Scuderi Pit 78 11 $0.525 $0.7 - 1 5-6
38 Muir Was 26 7 $0.600 $0.7 - 1 5-6
39 Klemm Dal 38 3 $0.950 $0.6 - 0.8 spare
40
Jackman Ana 31 12 $0.800 $0.5 - 0.8 spare
41 Richardson TB 27 3 $0.500 $0.5 - 0.6 spare
42 Hill NYI 81 25 $0.600 will retire


The answer to the question 'Who needs defencemen?' is: Absolutely everyone. I'd be surprised if there are more than a handful of teams who don't sign an unrestricted free agent on the blueline this summer.

Everyone's saying this is a weak UFA class, but while the top-end talent may not be there (the Scott Niedermayers of the world), there's depth here, and there are a ton of useful talent in the No. 3 to 6 spots in particular.

To me, how the defencemen shake out this off-season will determine who excels next season more than any other position. Last year, defenders like Jay McKee and Pavel Kubina drew huge deals when the big names went for even more ridiculous cash (Zdeno Chara comes to mind), and those contracts weighed heavily on their respective teams.

That could definitely be in the cards here again given the number of good teams, let alone the dogs, that are looking to replenish players lost.

Here's a look at who teams will be trying to replace or re-sign on defence:

Anaheim: O'Donnell, DiPenta, Jackman
Atlanta: De Vries, Sutton, Hnidy
Buffalo: Numminen
Calgary: Hamrlik, Stuart
Carolina: Tanabe
Colorado: Brisebois, Vaananen, Klee
Columbus: Berard, Eriksson
Dallas: Sydor, Klemm
Detroit: Schneider, Markov
Edmonton: Tjarnqvist
Los Angeles: Miller, Weaver, Modry, Heward
Minnesota: Skoula
Montreal: Souray, Niinimaa
Nashville: Timonen, Vishnevski
New Jersey: Rafalski, Lukowich
N.Y. Islanders: Poti, Hill
N.Y. Rangers: Ozolinsh
Ottawa: Preissing
Pittsburgh: Melichar, Cairns, Scuderi
San Jose: Hannan, Rivet
Tampa Bay: Sarich, Pratt, Richardson
Vancouver: Sopel, Fitzpatrick
Washington: Muir


As I said, some teams desperately need defencemen, and unlike with those searching for 'tenders, there are a lot of good teams in the mix here. The Ducks need a partner for Pronger; Atlanta has a few big holes and not a lot of cash; Calgary lost a couple of top fours; Colorado lost their depth behind Liles and Leopold; Detroit needs another high-ender; I'm not sure what Los Angeles will do other than throw Johnson in the fire; Montreal definitely needs a replacement for Souray/Rivet; Pittsburgh will upgrade; San Jose loses two biggies; Tampa Bay's already ailing defence has a big loss in Sarich, and Washington's going to be a surprise player in a lot of areas.

Let the bidding begin.

From the sound of things, Souray's headed to the west coast, likely LA or San Jose, while the Timonen sweepstakes are sure to get up there dollar-wise, with the Flyers likely very interested. Rafalski probably stays in New Jersey as the No. 1, but given the dollars he could command, that's no lock. Detroit seems uncertain about Schneider sticking around behind Lidstrom, while I think Hannan's one of the real prizes to be had among the whole free-agent class.

In the middling portion, Sutton will command a big deal simply because of his physical package, while the savvy GMs are going to chase less-heralded shutdown guys like Rivet, Markov and Sarich. The Avalanche would like to keep Vaananen, but if he's available, there's another little-known gem to be had.

If I'm one of the GMs looking for a blueliner, I don't want to play this game of musical chairs for long. There are a few guys I'd place in the 'desirable' category that will go quickly, and a lot of bargain-bin fodder that is going to linger until mid-July before they panic and sign in Columbus, Phoenix or Tampa.

And you have to wonder if players like Ozolinsh, Berard, Brisebois, Klemm, Jackman, Richardson, Klee and Hill will find any takers.

My guess is they won't — from the playoff-bound teams.

Labels:

8 Comments:

At 6:39 AM, June 13, 2007, Blogger JP said...

Replacing Muir with no one would be addition by subtraction for the Caps. That said, they obviously will be in the market for a blueliner or two. Hannan would look real nice in DC, as would Timonen and to a lesser extent Preissing.

 
At 10:00 AM, June 13, 2007, Anonymous Anshu said...

Very interesting list. If I were a GM, there's no way I'd pay Souray in the range you estimate, but I agree that he's likely to go for that. My feeling is he's responsible for giving up nearly as many goals as he scores.

Timonen is, however, worth big bucks in my opinion, as he provides a more complete package and can really anchor a team's defence. Wherever he goes, he'll undoubtedly improve that team considerably.

Based on comments made to the media recently, Preissing looks like he'll not sign in Ottawa. He's one of the best value guys in the list, I'd think.

I'm still surprised Montreal traded Rivet. A good, skilled, shut-down style defenceman is a rare and valuable commodity. He'll also be a good pickup wherever he ends up.

 
At 10:13 AM, June 13, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

If Souray gets more than Timmonen, that's pretty sad. Granted, getting Souray is likely purchasing an entire PP unit, but I think you can better spend your money on a bunch of players that will contribute more to other aspects of the game.

For what it's worth, when Souray was interviewed at the end of the Habs' season (locker cleaning day), he was asked by a reporter if he'd go to UFA, and the reporter suggestted he could get $6 million per if he did. Souray's reply: "That's too much." Of course, if he actually gets that offer, the team that makes the offer has already been warned.

No one should get more money than what Andrei Markov got. Only Timmonen compares to his quality.

 
At 10:31 AM, June 13, 2007, Anonymous Logan said...

Atlanta doesn't have big holes to fill. Sutton was the worst defenseman on the team last year and de Vries was average. If Hnidy isn't re-signed he'll be the biggest loss of the three.

And the thrashers have Mark Popovic waiting to take one spot and Tobias Enstrom is coming over from Sweden to take another. So they need one more defenseman at most to play with Havelid, Zhitnik and Exelby.

 
At 11:46 AM, June 13, 2007, Blogger MetroGnome said...

I will be surprised if Stuart signs for anything less than 4.5M.

Did I miss Greg Zanon on that list? He looks like a diamond in the rough type find, assuming he doesn't just re-sign with Nashville...

 
At 2:54 PM, June 13, 2007, Blogger LittleFury said...

Under "who teams will be trying to replace or re-sign on defence" you forgot to put, under Edmonton, the name Chris Pronger.

Yeah I know its been a year, but they still haven't got arounmd to it.

 
At 4:26 PM, June 13, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

As a Red Wings fan, I'm not that keen on resigning Schneider. I like him a lot, but Detroit really needs to move in a different direction: younger. Granted, you can't get really young through UFAs, but you can make some progress. Scott Hannan and Tom Preissing would be my top two targets if I were Ken Holland, and getting one of them would be considered a success. Brad Stuart would be another fine choice. Quality guys on the south side of 30 should be the target. Those are the guys you can offer long term deals to.

 
At 5:26 PM, June 13, 2007, Anonymous Matt Gunn said...

Teams would be very smart to target guys like Vaananen or Markov, as they will likely sign for under $2 million, but provide a very solid presence on the blueline. It will work in the GM's favor that these players don't have name value, as they play a very "unnoticeable" style. Still, they are key players to any team.

 

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