Any team still seeking to bolster its blueline won’t have to look hard to find help. While we’re in August now, there are still plenty of noteworthy defensemen left on the unrestricted free agent market.
Here’s some of the blueliners up for grabs:
Cody Franson — Arguably the best player left, the 27-year-old (28 on Aug. 8) ended the 2014-15 campaign on a sour note as he didn’t mesh well with Nashville, but he still finished with a career-high 36 points. Although he’s stayed on the market for far longer than anticipated, the offensive defenseman was speaking with five or six teams as of July 21, including the Boston Bruins. He’s hoping to get more than a one-year deal though after playing through three consecutive single season contracts.
Marek Zidlicky — Boston’s desire to add to its defense has also led to GM Don Sweeney reportedly speaking with Zidlicky. At the age of 38, Zidlicky is obviously in the twilight of his career, but he still recorded 34 points last season and would be expected to play a valuable role with the man advantage.
Christian Ehrhoff — Ehrhoff was limited to 49 games last season due to concussion problems, but at the age of 33, the possibility of a bounce back campaign certainly can’t be dismissed. After all, with the exception of the lockout shortened 2013 season, he had recorded at least 30 points in five straight campaigns going into 2014-15. Ehrhoff has been linked to Columbus, but the Blue Jackets are a little less than $4 million under the ceiling, per General Fanager, so they are unlikely to sign him unless it’s at a meaningful discount.
Lubomir Visnovsky — Visnovsky will celebrate his 39th birthday on Aug. 11 and is coming off of a rough season where he recorded five goals and 20 points in just 53 contests. He’s made it clear that he wants to continue his career, but at this point he’s reportedly considering European options. With 883 NHL games under his belt though, he has the potential to be a valuable veteran presence on an NHL squad.
Sergei Gonchar — Like Visnovsky, Gonchar expressed a desire to continue his career, but at the age of 41, there might not be interest in him. Gonchar had a goal and 14 points in 48 contests last season and he didn’t end up playing at all for Montreal during the postseason. The Canadiens don’t plan on bringing him back, so he would have to find work elsewhere. If this is the end for Gonchar, then he would be closing the book on a 1,301-game NHL career.