As we get farther away from July 1st, we are entiring Scott Howson territory, "The Patient Zone." The big fish have accumulated their big money, but many players are still out in the cold, other teams are bumping with the salary cap so some players will certainly be available. One of the offseason goals was to improve the offense from the blueline. We have not yet signed any defensemen and our top six will look like this
Hejda - Commdore
Tyutin - Klesla
Methot - Russell
Is this a playoff defense that will make a serious run?...
Here is a rundown on some D-Men that may be on the market. All scouting reports are provided by sportsnet.ca
Derek Morris, 30 years old
Contract Situation: UFA. Likely around 4.5 million per.
Assets:Possesses a well-rounded package of top-level skills, specifically an excellent skating stride and booming shot from the point. Is very strong and aggressive along the blueline.
Flaws:Has a tendency to lose his concentration in the defensive zone and give the puck away at the most inopportune moments. Must learn to better harness his aggressive nature.
Cannon's Take: Derek Morris would be an ideal player for us, but his dollars and term is likely too rich for our blood. We are not in position to commit 4+ million to another d-man for 4-5 more years. He is at the age where longterm deals become risky propositions. It would be a lot of dollars that we cannot afford.
Dennis Seidenberg, 27 years old
Contract Situation: UFA likely searching for around 3.5 million a year
Assets:Has a tendency to lose his concentration in the defensive zone and give the puck away at the most inopportune moments. Must learn to better harness his aggressive nature.
Flaws:Lacks strength despite decent size. Isn't overly physical and he needs to be in order to better handle high traffic areas.
Cannon's Take: Seidenberg looks to be a pretty good candidate on paper, but he is probably hoping to cash in off his big year. For us sinking a lot of dollars and years into a smallish left shooting may not make sense, but I can see us looking again if his price drops.
Sergei Zubov, 38 years old
Contract Situation: UFA looking for around 2.5 million a year.
Assets:Has outstanding passing skills and is extremely agile. Possesses outstanding hockey sense and usually makes the right play at the right time.
Flaws:Isn't physical at all and can be overmatched at times when opposed to big forwards in front of the net. Injuries are also a concern.
Cannon's Take: This would be a typical Howson move. He might be trying to keep this one in the back pocket. Howson would ideally not commit a lot of dollars or years to a player with the upcoming contracts that we will have to resign. We need long term pieces or short term stopgaps. Zubov could be the stop gap. He's been on of the most underrated defensement in the last 20 years and he already has a relationship with Hitch. He will also want a short-term deal which makes him attractive to us.
In a lot of ways we may look harder at trade possibilities to deal with our glut of wingers currently on the team. We might be better off sending away a contract for a player than even signing a UFA from a business standpoint. The player most likely traded would be Chimera. He has good trade value and good assets. He is also on the books for 3 more years at 1.875 a year which could be repurposed. Of the glut of wingers he is the most attractive piece, although I'd love to move many other wings than Chewy.
Anton Babchuk, 25 years old
Contract Situation: RFA that will likely want 3.5 millionish a year.
Assets: Displays untapped offensive potential and a big shot from the point. Owns enough ability to impact the back line.
Flaws: Needs to round out his game, especially in the defensive zone, since he's still very raw. Must be more disciplined on the ice.
Cannon's Take: This guy has a slapper. He is young and he is right handed. His overall value to a team has been questioned, but he was a solid +13 this year. He is one of the youngest options on the chart and could possibly fit in long term, but the question is, at what cost? The Hurricanes have already told him that he wants too much money and that they are willing to trade him. I'd take a serious look depending on his contract demands.
Christian Erhoff, 26 years old
Contract Situation: 2 years 3.15, 3.4
Assets:Owns sound hockey sense and the ability to log big minutes on the ice. Can quarterback a power play or be used in defensive situations.
Flaws:Doesn't handle big NHL forwards too well, so he needs to start making better use of his 6-2, 200-pound frame.
Cannon's Take: An intriguing possiblity and the Sharks have to move someone, because.... they have to sign 6 more players with about 1 million dollars. San Jose has been criticised for overvaluing their own players, which usually is a fine strategy, but will need to change as their economics force their hand. Erhoff would be the most movable of their blueliners and fit real nice on our powerplay. This could be a prime example of the patience that Howson promotes
Tom Gilbert, 26 years old
Contract Situation: 5 years 3.5, 5.5, 5, 3.5, 3
Assets:Moves the puck quickly and efficiently out of the defensive zone, and can also provide his team with offense. Plays a smooth brand of defense.
Flaws:Isn't physical at all for a 6-3, 210 pounder, which limits his overall effectiveness in the defensive zone.
Cannon's Take: Gilbert is a young rightie from the Oil, who have a surplus of powerplay blueliners. I choose Gilbert because he fits with the puck moving theme and he has some offensive skill. The Oil may not be willing to move him and to be honest I'm not sure how hard I'd push him for the contract he signed, but by the end of his deal it could look like highway robbery so I put him on the list.
Michal Rozsival, 30 years old
Contract Situation: 3 more years 6, 4, 3
Assets:Has an exciting combination of passing and shooting skills from the point. Is a good-sized defender with above-average mobility.
Flaws:Needs to be more intense for an entire 82-game schedule. Should make better use of his 6-2, 210-pound frame, and is at times a little too soft.
Cannon's Take: Rozsival was one of my personal targets last offseason. For the money he got I'm glad we passed. He just got paid 7 million bucks this year so a lot of the money is already out of the way. He is a rightie, but may not work the powerplay magic like others on the list. I know many people do not want to bail out the Rangers... but if it improves OUR team, I don't really care.
Tomas Kaberle 31 years old
Contract Situation: 2 years 4.25 per
Assets:Possesses tremendous hockey smarts and the ability to find his teammates with excellent passes. A swift skater, he loves to join the attack. Defends well.
Flaws:Still makes occasional mistakes when pinching in. Could use more strength to better handle big NHL forwards. Doesn't shoot enough on the power play.
Cannon's Take: The Leafs would have been much better off trading this guy 2 years ago when his value skyrocketed and their team was diving. Kaberle didn't end the year as well as he would have liked, but still the TML his best value. He's probably still worth it, but the cost of him would be very high. I'm not sure we'd have the pieces. TML would likely want a Filatov type, but we would not touch that and we really don't have any solid offensive prospects outside of the unproven Mayorov that might interest the Leafs. Toronto will have to trade someone. They'll be best off trading Kaberle, but it will likely be to someone else for a better return than we could offer.
Mike Van Ryn, 30 years old
Contract Situation: 1 year, 3.35 mil
Assets:Moves the puck well up the ice, has a good point shot and is always willing to dish out punishment.
Flaws:Needs to become more assertive on offense, since he has the talent to produce big numbers.
Cannon's Take: The plus side would be that he and Freddy Modin could share one locker room stall since the odds of them both needing it at the same time would be nil. One of them would certainly be out of the lineup. Van Ryn would be a reasonably good gamble, but his salary makes it hard to swallow if he doesn't stay healthy. I'm not sure he would improve us enough even if he did. Tying up 3.35 million on a player that might end up staying at Chris Mizer's house would cripple our moves at the trade deadline.
John Michael Liles, 28 years old
Contract Situation: 3 years, 4.125, 4.425, 4.55
Assets:Has plenty of offensive acumen. Isn't afraid of the rough going. Plays with supreme confidence when in possession of the puck.
Flaws:His smallish frame will always be an issue at the NHL level. Needs to prove he can raise his level of play with more ice time.
Cannon's Take: Liles would be an amazing addition. After acquiring Preissing and Quincey, the Avs also have a surplus of blueliners and we will not accept Adam Foote back.... well maybe with 3 more first rounders for David Ling. Liles was another UFA darling from a year back that was certainly on my radar screen, no reason that should change now. He is from Indiana and may like to come back to midwest. The cost would be hard to measure for a player like him. Colorado would likely want youth, but then again we run into a problem of not having a lot of tier B young forwards outside of Mayorov.
Who do you like? Fire Away!