2010 NHL Free Agency: The Defensemen

4 Comments

With the 2010 NHL Free Agency market set to open on Thursday, we’ll
be listing the top unrestricted free agents in all three positions throughout the day. This isn’t the
full list of free agents, but it’s a good chunk of them. The defensemen:

Player
Age
Team
09-10 cap hit
Pavel
Kubina
33
Atlanta
$5 million
Sergei
Gonchar
36
Pittsburgh
$5 million
Kim
Johnsson
34
Chicago
$4.85 million
Paul
Martin
29
New
Jersey
$3.8 million
Derek
Morris
31
Phoenix
$3.3 million
Ruslan
Sulei
35
Colorado
$3.02 million
Randy
Jones
28
Los
Angeles
$2.75 million
Joe
Corvo
33
Washington
$2.625 million
Anton
Volchenkov
28
Ottawa
$2.5 million
Brian
Pothier
33
Carolina
$2.5 million
Dan
Hamhuis
27
Pittsburgh
$2 million
Shaone
Morrison
27
Washington
$1.975 million
Jordan
Leopold
29
Pittsburgh
$1.75 million
Carlo
Colaiacovo
27
St.
Louis
$1.28 million
Zybnek
Michalek
27
Phoenix
$1.25 million
Marc-Andre
Bergeron
29
Montreal
$750,000
Lukas
Krajicek
27
Philadelphia
$700,000
Brett
Lebda
28
Detroit
$650,000
Kurtis
Foster
28
Tampa Bay
$600,00

Quick analysis:

Not exactly an elite group of
defensemen this season, as teams have done a good job of locking up
their elite soon-to-be free agents before they hit the open market on
Thursday.

What’s left is an okay group of good but not great
defensemen, highlighted by the impending free agency of Sergei Gonchar.
He’s one of the older defensemen in this group, yet still puts up a high
number of points. I doubt he’ll see another $5 million-a-year contract,
but he’s going to make some team happy should Pittsburgh fail, or
decide not to, keep him.

Paul Martin would certainly seem to be
the next best player available, followed by Dan Hamhuis, Anton
Volchenkov and perhaps Joe Corvo.

Two names to keep an eye on are
Kurtis Foster and Marc-Andre Bergeron. I know that MAB got a bad rap in
Montreal, but both he and Foster were the two of the most valuable
defensemen in the NHL last season in point production.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

18 Comments

Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

22 Comments

If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

22 Comments

It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

99 Comments

Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.