NHL Free Agents: Top 5 NHL Free Agent Defensemen
Top NHL free agent defensemen

NHL Free agency will start in a few days and we’re continuing with our look at the blueline. This article will focus on the top 5 NHL free agent defensemen that are expected to hit the open market on Saturday.

There are some pretty good ones that could find themselves new teams. Let’s take a look at the best options.

5. Karl Alzner 

Alzner is hitting the market for the first time in his career as he’s played for the Washington Capitals ever since he entered the NHL. He’s not known for being an offensive defenseman as the most points he’s had in a season is 21. He’s known for being good defensively in his own zone and he’s been a top four guy throughout his Capitals career.

Many teams have reportedly already reached out to him, including the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks. Alzner is 28 and this is the perfect time for him to cash out. A team desperately in need of defensive help will surely overpay to get him.

4. Trevor Daley 

The list has thinned out a bit but that doesn’t mean that Trevor Daley isn’t a good player. He’s a good middle pairing defenseman but also struggled a bit this season in Pittsburgh. He had five goals and 19 points this season but  missed a chunk of time due to injury at the end of the regular season.

His possession numbers took a major hit as well as this season. He was only 46.1% compare that to 53.7% last season in Pittsburgh, which is a big drop. That being said, the Penguins are unlikely to bring him back and it’s already been reported that there’s teams calling about his services. He’s definitely one to watch as he could get a bit overpaid.

3. Brendan Smith

It may come as a surprise that Smith is this high but he’s the most underrated defenseman on the open market. His offensive numbers aren’t flashy as he only had three goals and nine points this season. He’s good defensively and his posession numbers have been through the roof throughout his career.

His possession wasn’t great this year as it was near 50% but before that it was 56.8% during the 2015-2016 season. He can play in a top four role and it’s been reported that the Rangers are trying to re-sign him back. If they don’t agree to terms though, he’d be a great addition to many teams defensive cores. (reportedly re-signing for four years at a $4.35 million cap hit)

2. Andrei Markov

Markov is one of the more interesting cases hitting the open market as he produces very well but is creeping up there in age. He’s 38 years old but this past season he had six goals and 36 points for the Montreal Canadiens. The previous year he had 44 points, so he’s been one of Montreal’s best defenseman production wise.

He may sign back in Montreal but he has some pretty steep contract demands. It’s been reported that he’s eyeing a two year deal worth $6M per season with Montreal. If Montreal won’t re-sign him, there will be plenty of other teams interested in his services.

1. Kevin Shattenkirk 

Shattenkirk is the cream of the crop when it comes to defenseman hitting the open market and will have a lot of teams calling to get him. He’s one of the better offensive defenseman in the league. This past season between the Blues and the Capitals, he had 13 goals and 56 points. His 56 points are the most points he’s had in his NHL career. He was also a 54.3% possession player this season.

The Rangers have been linked to him for many months but it’s unclear if they’ll sign him. Look for him to get a long term contract with a team and potentially a salary cap hit of $6M plus per year.