Top six potential UFA defensemen for 2011 (plus complete list)

charaz.jpgWhen a sports team (or group of fans) spouts the “Wait ’til next year” line, they usually mean that the next season could bring better things. Yet after a few days of the free agent frenzy, that saying might also apply to July 2011.

It’s very early to look at future unrestricted free agents – especially since many of them will probably sign extensions at some point before then – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun picturing different scenarios.

In the next few posts, I’ll go over some of the most promising unrestricted free agents by position.

I began with the forwards, so let’s move on to the defensive guys. All of the eligible defensemen (listed by are included in the spreadsheet below. (Click to enlarge)


Note: I’m not even going to put Nicklas Lidstrom on this list, because barring a disaster, he’ll either play the 2011-12 season as a member of the Detroit Red Wings or retire.

Zdeno Chara
Current Age: 33
Previous Cap Hit: $7.5 million

It’s rare that a hockey player can live up to such a huge cap hit, but the Big Z often (dare I say) even exceeded that value. The question is, will the Boston Bruins want to give him another Chara-sized deal once he gets older? If not, he’ll get big money somewhere else.

Andrei Markov
Current Age: 31
Previous Cap Hit: $5.75 million

Markov is one of the league’s most underrated defenseman. He’s one of the best point producers, a guy who makes a big difference for Montreal’s powerplay unit. He’s at the right age to receive one more nice deal.

Tomas Kaberle
Current Age: 32
Previous Cap Hit: $4.25 million

Aside from being an annual (heck, semi-annual) source of trade rumors, Kaberle’s also been one of the league’s best passing defenseman. He can really help a team’s powerplay, much like Markov.

Kevin Bieksakevinbie.jpg
Current Age: 29
Previous Cap Hit: $3.75 million

He hasn’t really “put it all together” but Bieksa brings a nice set of skills and nastiness to the table. Plus he’s still young enough to earn a few years.

Christian Ehrhoff
Current Age: 27
Previous Cap Hit: $3.1 million

I’m going out on a limb a bit with this one because Ehrhoff had a great season with the Vancouver Canucks. If he can put two good years together, he could be a very well-sought after player at his age.

Chris Phillips
Current Age: 32
Previous Cap Hit: $3.5 million

He’s not flashy – and certainly not worthy of being a No. 1 draft pick – but Phillips is a solid shutdown defenseman still more or less in his prime.

Honorable Mentions

Intriguing: Hal Gill, Andy Greene, Roman Hamrlik

Washed up or not?: Ed Jovanovski

Injury prone: Sami Salo, Eric Brewer

Frustrating: Bryan McCabe, Tom Poti

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    WATCH LIVE: Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks

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    [Puck drop at 10 p.m. ET, CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE]


    Golden Knights

    Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonTomas Tatar

    David PerronErik HaulaJames Neal

    Ryan CarpenterCody EakinAlex Tuch

    Tomas NosekPierre-Edouard BellemareRyan Reaves

    Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

    Shea TheodoreDeryk Engelland

    Jon MerrillColin Miller

    Starting goalie: Malcolm Subban

    [Golden Knights – Sharks preview]


    Evander KaneJoe PavelskiMelker Karlsson

    Tomas HertlLogan CoutureMikkel Boedker

    Timo MeierChris TierneyKevin Labanc

    Barclay GoodrowEric FehrJannik Hansen

    Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun

    Paul MartinBrent Burns

    Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

    Starting goalie: Martin Jones

    Cam Ward delivers an all-time own goal (video)

    Fox Sports Carolinas

    We’ve seen some pretty interesting own goals throughout NHL history, and now Cam Ward has staked his claim for one of the strangest.

    The Carolina Hurricanes goaltender scored on himself in one of the most bizarre plays ever seen in the NHL.

    The puck, as you can see, hops into the skate of an unknowing Ward as the veteran netminder went out to play a puck that was rimmed around the boards.

    Ward, does what he would normally do after trotting out behind his net, and gets back into his crease. Unsure of where the puck is, he drops into the butterfly. The problem is the puck is stuck in his right skate, which goes over the goal line.

    It’s hard to explain, so let’s roll the footage:

    The play-by-play man on Fox Sports Carolinas had a good point: Why wasn’t the play blown dead? Even if the ref has his eye on the puck, there was no way of Ward knowing what he was about to do.

    Is there even a rule for that?

    Either way, one of the strangest goals in recent memory counted in a game few were probably watching to begin with.

    It’s probably safe to assume Ward (and goalies around the NHL) are going to find some way as to not let that happen again.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Red Wings’ Mike Green to have neck surgery, ending his season

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    Mike Green‘s neck has done him few favors this season, and now it’s done his season in.

    The All-Star defenseman will undergo cervical spine surgery and will miss the remainder of the 2017-18, the Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday, right before the puck dropped for their game against the Washington Capitals.

    Red Wings fans will recall, and likely bemoan, an earlier neck injury that prevented Green from getting dealt at the trade deadline earlier this season.

    Green, 32, was hurt in a Feb. 15 matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and missed seven games, returning on March 2 against the Winnipeg Jets. On Wednesday, he aggravated the same injury in practice.

    Green has eight goals and 33 points in 66 games played.

    Per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press:

    The procedure is scheduled for April 5 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and will be performed by Dr. Frank Cammisa. A minimum two months of recovery time is expected.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Green this summer. The aging d-man is headed to free agency this summer and what he will command is up in the air. That number, whatever it is, likely took a blow thanks to this latest revelation on Thursday.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings

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    Washington Capitals

    Alex Ovechkin / Nicklas Backstrom / Tom Wilson

    Andre Burakovsky / Lars Eller / T.J. Oshie

    Brett Connolly / Travis Boyd / Jakub Vrana

    Chandler Stephenson / Jay Beagle / Devante Smith-Pelly

    Dmitry Orlov / Matt Niskanen

    Michal Kempny / John Carlson

    Christian Djoos / Brooks Orpik

    Starting goalie: Philipp Grubauer

    [Capitals – Red Wings preview]

    Detroit Red Wings

    Tyler Bertuzzi / Henrik Zetterberg / Gustav Nyquist

    Darren Helm / Dylan Larkin / Anthony Mantha

    Justin Abdelkader / Frans Nielsen / Andreas Athanasiou

    Evgeny Svechnikov / Luke Glendening / Martin Frk

    Niklas Kronwall / Mike Green

    Jonathan Ericsson / Trevor Daley

    Danny DeKeyser / Nick Jensen

    Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard