Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rumor Mill: UFA Defenseman who make CENTS for the Pens

With Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi
likely gone from the Penguins, Ray Shero will try to find a shutdown defenseman who can replace one of those two. Since Goligoski (Gogo) will be in the lineup next year, that means Lovejoy will likely not start until later in the season. Why? Because the Pens will have no shutdown pairing or very solid defenseman on the backend if Lovejoy starts. There will be enough offense as it is with Gonchar, Letang, and now Goligoski (who's offensive skills Pens fans saw the 1st half of last year).

The following five defenseman are ones I think Shero will seriously consider or go after once July 1st hits. They make "cents" both financially and by what they can bring to the team.

1. Francois Beauchemin D- 6'0 213 lbs, 29
last year with Ana: 20 games, 4g 1a 5 pts, shoots: L
contract was: $1.65 mil

An excellent 2-way defenseman who loves hitting and carries one of the hardest shots in the NHL. Can play the point on the power play and can be a shutdown type guy. Beauchemin had a torn ACL and missed most of this season but he's stayed healthy in his career as a Blue Jacket and a Duck. Has averaged 20-30 pts per season and is a very reliable defenseman in both ends of the ice. His salary is expected to increase after 3 great seasons with the Ducks. It will still be worth signing him in the $2-3 mil/yr range, but nothing higher.

2. Greg Zanon D- 5'11 211 lbs, 29
last year with Nsh: 82 games, 4 g 7 a 11 pts, shoots: L
contract was: $750k

Has played just three full seasons in the NHL, all with Nashville. He's the definition of a defensive defenseman. Think of Mark Eaton with less skill and a lot more grit. Zanon was 3rd in the NHL in with 237 blocked shots and also added 153 hits. Very responsible in his own end and he would be an awesome guy to see alongside Gogo. But his contract like Scuderi's, is expected to rise quite a bit. IF he's in the 2-2.5 mil range then Shero will try and snag him.

3. Steve Montador D- 6'0 205 lbs, 29
last year with Ana/Bos: 78 games, 4 g 17 a 21 pts, shoots: R

contract was: $800k

He's been one of my favorite players the past 5 years (since his cup run with Calgary in '04). Has some offensive skills but is better known for being a solid stay at home guy. Did I mention he doesn't mind dropping the fisticuffs? He was a +17 while registering 143 pim. Something he does that some of the other affordable UFA defenseman don't is shoot the puck. He had 117 shots playing in a bottom pairing type role with Anaheim and then Boston. Gill and Scuderi are two of the worst at getting pucks to the net, Scuderi especially. Even though he's a middleweight, Montador loves to hit and stand up for his teammates in fights (look at him nailing goon Hollweg above). Pens could definetely get him for $1.5mil-2mil.

4. Martin Skoula D- 6'3 226 lbs, 29
last year with Min: 81 games, 4 g 12 a 16 pts, shoots: L
contract was: $1.9 mil

Another very reliable 2-way defenseman, who's averaged 80 games a season in his 9 year NHL career. As big/strong as he is, he isn't overly physical. He played on the 3rd defensive pairing for Min. the last couple seasons. I used to like him a lot when he w
as a youngster playing for Colorado 10 years back, but he's still solid today. He isn't amazing at anything, but he has decent offensive skills and plays a very sound defensive game. The only Youtube clip of him you'll find is where he embarrasses himself on a freaky turnover. He would be a nice defenseman to have at a good price. I'm not sure Shero will sign him for $1.9 or higher, but $1-1.5 mil range is definetely worth it for a guy who's barely missed a regular season game in the NHL.

5. Nick Boynton D- 6'2 210 lbs, 30
last year with F
la: 68 games, 5 g 16 a 21 pts, shoots: R
contract was: $2.95 mil

An in your face type guy who plays similiar to Montador but posesses more offensive skills. He loves hitting and doesn't mind a heavy workload, and will also fight if needed. He was a +7 with 91 pim and 104 shots. Because of a dispute with Panthers Coach Deboer, Boynton was a healthy scratch for several games near the end of the year. I like that he has a right handed as well as accurate shot from the point. The Pens could use him on the 2nd PP and on the 2nd defensive pairing. He's also a smooth skater for a stocky guy. What will his price be on July 1st? I'm going to say in the $2-3 mil range. His value has shrunk a little because of his attitude but Shero will be keeping a close eye out and he will be worth it for $2-2.5 mil/yr

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