Thursday, June 12, 2014

Top UFA Defensemen To Target For The Montreal Canadiens

With the NHL playoffs coming to an end soon and free agency looming, it is time to have a closer look at some potential free agent targets for the Montreal Canadiens. One area where the Habs could use help is on the blue line, and especially a right handed defenseman who can move the puck and play on the second pairing. The team has a glut of left-handed defensemen (Gorges, Emelin, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Drewiske and most likely Markov), but lacks depth on the right side.

With veterans Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon not returning next season and the possibility that GM Marc Bergevin is unable to re-sign rearguard Andrei Markov to a multi-year contract, the team will need to find help in the blue line if it wants to repeat this year's feat of reaching the Eastern Conference final.

Potential free agents targets:

Matt Niskanen, 27, Pittsburgh Penguins. After his best offensive season during which he recorded 10 goals and 36 assists for 46 points in 81 games to go along with 51 PIM and a solid +33 rating, Niskanen will be the most coveted defenseman on the market if he can't reach an agreement with the Penguins before July 1st (which is unlikely). Niskanen is expected to command a five-year contract of at least $5.5 to $6M annually on the open market and there will be plenty of suitors for his services. The puck-moving blue liner rebounded nicely this season after a difficult campaign during the lock-out shortened season where he only notched 4 goals and 10 assists for 14 points in 40 games. Should Marc Bergevin be unable to re-sign Markov, Niskanen becomes the number one option on the back end to replace him, but there will be plenty of teams interested in his services, most notably the Detroit Red Wings, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals.
(Salary in 2013-14: $2,500,000)

Dan Boyle, 37, New York Islanders. Recently acquired from the San Jose Sharks for a draft pick by New York Islanders' GM Garth Snow, Boyle is highly unlikely to sign with his new team as he has expressed his wish to finish his career with a contender. This season, the Ottawa native scored 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points in 75 games to go along with 32 PIM and a disappointing -8 rating. Boyle, who is looking for a two-year deal, will also be sought-after by many teams who are looking for a veteran presence on the blue line. The Toronto Maple Leafs are rumored to be very interested in his services. Boyle could also go back to Florida where he both played for the Panthers and the Lightning. His wife Amber is also a native of Florida so it could play into his decision.
(Salary in 2013-14: $6,666,666)

Tom Gilbert, 31, Florida Panthers. Signed to one-year deal worth peanuts by the Panthers prior to last season, Gilbert quietly enjoyed a solid campaign under the sun. The right-handed defenseman recorded 3 goals and 25 assists for 28 points in 73 games to go with 18 PIM and a +5 plus/minus differential. While the 6'3'', 205-lb defenseman is not overly physical, his size would be welcomed on the Habs blue line, especially if the organization doesn't re-sign veteran UFA Mike Weaver, who is also a righty.
(Salary in 2013-14: $900,000)

Anton Stralman, 27, New York Rangers. Currently playing for the Stanley Cup finals against the Los Angeles Kings, Stralman has been a revelation this spring. In 81 games with the Blueshirts this season, the Swede notched 1 goal and 12 assists for 13 points with a +9 rating. The smooth skating Stralman is currently playing in the Rangers' top-4 alongside Marc Staal to the tune of almost 20 minutes per game and he would be a great fit beside Andrei Markov on the Canadien' second pairing. A great skater and a solid defensive player, Stralman would make a great depth signing for the Canadiens should the Rags let him go due to salary cap issues.
(Salary in 2013-14: $1,800,000)

Stephane Robidas, 37, Anaheim Ducks. Acquired from the Dallas Stars for a draft pick at the trade deadline, the veteran defenseman was plagued by injuries all season. Robidas, who suffered a broken right leg on November 29th, only dressed for 38 games, scoring 5 goals and adding 5 assists for 10 points and a +10 differential. A steady rearguard throughout his career, the former Habs defenseman broke the same leg again in the first round of the playoffs, but he was able to avoid surgery and should be ready for the beginning of the 2014-15 season. Robidas might be willing to accept a salary cut to finish his career with the team that drafted him way back in 1995. Robidas could be paired with a youngster like Nathan Beaulieu on the team's third pairing while playing on the second power play unit and kill some penalties.
(Salary in 2013-14: $2,850,000)

Derek Morris, 35, Phoenix Coyotes. After spending the last five seasons in the desert where people don't care about hockey, it would be a complete change of scenery for the bruising defenseman. The veteran notched 5 goals and 12 assists for 17 points with a -2 differential and 41 PIM in 2013-14. The Albertan will certainly not be back with the cash-strapped Coyotes even though he resides in the area all-year long. The rugged blue liner would bring sandpaper to the Habs defensive corps as he plays with an edge and brings a lot of character to the table.
(Salary in 2013-14: $2,750,000)

Who would be your choice to fill the glaring hole on the Habs blue line in the offseason?

No Foolin' Fred Poulin


Scott Thornton would be a perfit fit to replace washed up Parros, plus Thornton brings some offense to the table..Then Kesler or Callahan to add to the Habs needed Top 6.

Like Scott Thornton alot, and we desperately need a winger now Vanek is gone. we waisted Collberg and a second rounder for a rental. bad move.

I have a feeling Niskanen will get way more than he is worth. This was really his only solid year. Being number one for much of the year on a team that employs Malkin and Crosby definitely inflated his numbers.

He is a good skater and passer, not saying he isn't a good player. But he will get WAY more than he deserves IMO and I hope it is not in Mtl

Pittsburgh starters are always overvalued because of the points they get by going along for the Crosby/Malkin ride. Ask Jussi Jokinen, Chris Kunitz or Paul Martin, Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen on D. All are solid but not elite players. In a down D market, he will be overpaid.

I like Gilbert. As for a forward the habs have more than enough bottom six guys. I Like Thorton but would have to move Moen or to make room which is okay with me.
Time to get the kids involved on the back end or use them in trade pkg for a young top 6 forward.

I agree that the Habs need impact players, not depth players as they already have plenty of them in the organization.

Is Scott Thornton coming out of retirement? One of my favorite habs all time. ;)

Going speak out loud but I really think he best option for he Habs is a trade. I would personally try to get Bieksa to waive his NTC and then see if we can someone make a move for Burrows and Bieksa.

Also thinking that Niskanen will be a bust this coming season.
Maybe a short term fix like a Boyle?

@Fred.....not sure they need Impact Players. That team is struggling as well.

Love this. Do you think it is possible. Numbers work?

E Kane for Beulieu,Tokarski, Eller and 2nd Rder.(have to sign eller first) 2.5 for 3 years should do it.

Weaver 1.5 per 2 years
T Gilbert 5mil 3 years
Subban 8.5 7 years
R Callahan 24 mill 5 years
J Iginla 4.5 2 years.
D weiss 1.25 2 years

Kane Galchenyuk Iginla
Patches, desharnais, Gallagher
Bourque, Pleks, Callahan
Moen, Prust, Weiss
Bournival, Briere (ideally would like to see Moen and Briere moved and a quality big forward come in that spot)

Subby, Gorges
Emelin, Gilbert
Tinordi, Weaver
Pateryn (need to find an offensive guy to play with subby on the pp) (maybe move tinordi instead of Beaulieu).

Tough to get Kane. Might not be enough in that offer but there are available FA with similar skill pkg.
Definitely got a lot bigger and tougher.
Maybe move Gorges for a Bieska type of defenseman. Simply Bieska has more offensive upside.

I think we need a more physical defenseman now that Murray is gone. Emelin is not tough but does throw body checks. However, we need to have physical D that can handle the big power forwards. Beaulieu can replace Markov, lets face it our PP was not that great last year. We need some bigger forwards who can go to the net and get the garbage goals from PK's shot. We have a lease three if not four young D men realy to move up.

the only placve to get a subban rebound is in the netting above the fans lol
i hope marc trades his rights not overpays a self centered jerk

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