Obviously our defensive depth was a huge issue this year. Staios/Eaton/Jurcina/Mottau all this year proved themselves to be arguably sub-par bottom pair d-men in one way or another. Garth wanted a top 4 d-man last year in UFA/the-offseason and told the world. He came away with Staios, aka no top 4 d-man. Based on that, I just wanted to look at the market from an “advanced stats” standpoint on if there are any real top 4 d-men left in free agency that are viable options for us to acquire:
Nicklas Lidstrom=Not happening
Michal Rozsival= Used as a bottom pairing d-man on the Coyotes this year and protected, but not coming out dominantly on top against easy competition. And not very offensively productive anymore either(even with PP time taken from him, which he wasn’t producing well with the past few years). Is also 33yrs old and likely near the end of his career. Not top 4 caliber D, and don’t offer a contract given numbers.
Dennis Wideman=Turning 29 this month, and on the verge of a 12goal/49pts season, Wideman definitely has the offense teams seek from the blueline, especially on the PP. But what about the defense? Advanced stats in recent years, especially this year, show him to be “sub-par” defensively for a top 4 d-man, being sheltered into nhl bottom pair competition this year and barely coming out on top, but not being heavily sheltered into a very high o-zone faceoff percentage. But that number(s) are still worrisome, especially given he is a 2nd worst among
defenseman minus 5(plus minus), next to john Carlson whom is facing very tough shutdown pair competition. In essence, expect Ehrhoff if you want him. Likely he’ll be able to put up offense for a good amount more years, but expect sub-par top 4 defense out of him, likely bottom pair quality defense. Top 4 d-man? Offensively yes, defensive no. His defensive abilities and noticeably negative plus minus the last 3 years make him looks like a defensive liability at even strength. Looks like Ehrhoff, arguably not worth more than $4mil/yr over the life of his next contract, especially if it spans 3yrs+, but will likely get paid more than that somewhere. I’d suggest staying away because his D partner 37yr old Hamrlik at even strength is a much better 2-way player than him statistically, o-production aside, carrying Wideman defensively you would say, and that alone is a scary conclusion of his 2-way abilities. Isles should stay away from imo.
Pavel Kubina= Huge, physical, 34yrs old, and coming out negative in a shutdown role. Was being carried 2-way stats wise by Brewer in Tampa and has only been around a few games in philly so far. Last year, against bottom pair competition Kubina came out solidly on top, but this year he is struggling in a shutdown role, and most likely in over his head and not capable of the role. Arguably might be passable as a defensive d-man against mid-pair competition, but at his age and given his style of play, any contract for him as a top 4 d-man would be a huge gamble and likely a bad gamble. Highly likely Kubina isn’t top 4 quality next year, let alone for the life of his next multiyear contract. Would be a decent addition as a bottom pair d-man for a year or 2 though I’d say, but I have no idea what the market for him is.
Brad Stuart=Stats are not kind to him this year. High o-zone starts, mid d-pair competition, and coming out in the negative as a 2-way player. Best year(s) were with Lidstrom sheltering him. Likely overrated, and at 32yrs old, a physical d-man like him may be close to his last legs. Contract would be a gamble thinking him as a top 4 d-man for any years. Might be shutdown pair worthy, but would need a partner to carry him to be effective. Not worth much $ and likely not worth going after.
Filip Kuba=35yrs old and arguably a passable top 4 d-man, but he’s been heavily sheltered with high o-zone starts and isn’t coming out on top(although against tough competition). Not worth a multiyear contract.
Barrett Jackman= 31yrs old physical shutdown d-man that looks like he has something left in the tank. This is his 1st year not being thrown heavily to the wolves and he looks to be a passable
shutdown d-man still, especially with the right partner. In the past he’s been a good solid shutdown d-man with little o abilities, but he still has those shutdown abilities it appears. Might not have a ton left in the tank, given how we’ve seen Witt/shutdown d-men age, but should be reliable in a shutdown pairing role for another year or 2, if not he should be capable of aging into a decent bottom pair d-man for another couple years after that. And he has the gritz. Seems to get little injuries occasionally, but would likely be our best option to solidify our top 4 defense affordably in ufa. Not sure how to gauge his cost, but $3mil/yr~(I’d guess) for a 2-3 years would be good for both sides.
Ryan Suter=Cream of the crop, Franchise d-man, Prize of the UFA d-class. 27yrs old legit 2-way top pairing d-man, capable in any situation, excels defensively and can put up a lot of points. Need I say more? Worth a king’s ransom, likely not coming here though unless he wants all out money and Garth gives him a blank check, and even then it’s unlikely given the way he’s been talking to the media about “wanting to win”.
Matt Carle=27yrs old offensive top 4 d-man. Numbers are passable as a 2-way top 4 d-man, mostly because of his offense. Very mobile and extremely underrated offensively. Extremely effective 5-on-5 offensively and can help a PP unit at the point. On the verge of a 40pts season, but is much more a passer than a shooter. Likely will earn most pennies of his next contract. You want an offensive top 4 d-man that won’t be a liability in his own zone and will put up points over the life of his contract, Matt Carle is your man. Worth $4mil/yr for 4 or 5yrs, could get more, but looks to be under the radar imo and would be an excellent pick up for any team looking for a reliable, but not dominant defensively, 2-way top 4 d-man.
Bryan Allen=31yrs old giant shutdown d-man, but is a huge penalty taking machine. Advanced stats are all over the place, not someone I’d call a reliable d-man. Likely stay away from or acquire cheap for the bottom pair if possible.
Bryce Salvador=We don’t need no….bum bum bum….Devil’s rejects….bum bum bum….no no no………………….no. No old devils that are underperforming.
Nicklas Grossman= 27yrs old and carried by Robidas most of his career, whom he was a passable shutdown pairing d-man with, and having the worst advanced stats year of his career away from Robidas, not coincidentally. Likely a borderline top 4 d-man. Big, physical, good on the PK, and a decent shutdown d-man. Not optimal and given his numbers drop this year without Robidas, likely a no touch situation.
Greg Zanon=31yrs old defensive d-man. Has had some decent and ugly years. Looks like a passable defensive top 4 d-man, but by no means should be a top pairing shutdown guy to count on. Injuries should be a concern given his style. Too risky to consider a multiyear contract for and may likely be on the decline given his style of play. Likely not worth exploring unless we want a solid bottom pair defensive d-man imo.
Carlo Colaiacovo=too injury prone to consider(?). Although advanced stats say he’s a decent top 4 2-way d-man, but too hard to gauge/consider given injuries, games missed, and past quality of competition. Could be an option????
Joe Corvo=34yrs old offensive d-man that is bad in his own zone. Good on the PP, good offensive but not elite offensive abilities, but just too bad on D. Worst plus minus d-man on his team each of the past 2yrs. A liability at even strength. Do not touch or offer a contract to.
Cory Sarich= 33yrs old and a big physical bottom pair d-man. Nothing more.
Johnny Oduya=30yrs old, good in NJ, not good away from NJ/in ATL/WPG/CHI. Advanced stats say he’s nothing more than a bottom pair d-man.
Jaroslav Spacek=38yrs old, enough said about our team and ancient d-men. And that’s without even going into his “numbers”.
Hal Gill=Nothing more than a PK specialist now.
Jason Garrison :
He definitely looks top 4 caliber. A solid top 4 shutdown d-man with some decent puckmoving capabilties and a rocket shot. Would be a nice addittion to the PP and a decent d-man along Streit or A-mac/Hamonic on the top pair or mid-pair. He has size: 6'2'' 215lbs, mobility, and physicality. And 27yrs old, so he should have years left of high-caliber play. I'd offer him 3-5yrs @ $4mil/yr~.
In conclusion advanced stats imo suggest:
Ryan Suter=Bobby Orr in the flesh, well no, but he’s a legit franchise d-man.
Barret Jackman=affordable/realistic top 4 shutdown d-man option for a couple/few years.
Matt Carle=affordable/realistic top 4 offensive d-man option for a few year/even 5yrs given his numbers, game, and abilities.
Jason Garrison=Shutdown top 4 d-man with puckmoving skills and a laser slapshot that could help the PP. Offer 3-5yrs at $4mil/yr~.
All other players mentioned are not close to smart dollar/performance top 4 d-men for their next contract according to advanced stats and more taken into account, but possibly solid bottom pair depth we could add. Obviously the market is thin.
Feel free to mention anyone you think I missed hitting UFA this year. I’ll either add them to the list or give you a reason why I didn’t include them.