2009 NHL Free Agency: A Look at Defensemen and Goaltenders with Updated News About Bouwmeester

Before we delve into the crop of free agent defensemen and goaltenders, let me throw some accolades towards the people at NHL Numbers.

From a capology and free agent standpoint, I think they're the best website. They're the source for all the lists of free agent defensemen and goaltenders you'll see below the jump. However, they are not complete lists as they do not include any free agents who did not spend any time this past season on any club's active roster.

From a Stars perspective, these are now the two most glaring needs now that they've locked up Jere Lehtinen for another year.

Now onto the free agents...

Defensemen

First off, Rob Blake, Johnny Oduya, and Tyler Sloan have each signed extensions with their current teams, Niclas Havelid of New Jersey signed on to play in Europe, and Derian Hatcher retired after being told he'll need knee replacement surgery.

And of course, TSN is now reporting that the Calgary Flames have agreed to a five year deal with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

So that leaves a group of about 70 unrestricted  free agents that have played more than 80 NHL games in their career. As a side note, there are about 16 UFA's that aren't listed with the designation of UFA VI. Players that are over 25 years of age, have played 3 pro seasons (NHL minors), but have not amassed at least 80 NHL games played over their career:

Player Age Team Pos Status 08-09 Cap Hit 08-09 Salary Status
Niedermayer, Scott  35 ANA  D  UFA  6.75 6.75 Signed 5-year deal with Calgary
Schneider, Mathieu  40 MTL  D  UFA  5.625 5.75
Zubov, Sergei  38 DAL  D  UFA  5.35 5.35
Blake, Rob  39 SJS  D  UFA  5 5 Signed extension
Bouwmeester, Jay  25 FLA  D  UFA  4.875 4.875 Rights traded to CGY
Aucoin, Adrian  35 CGY  D  UFA  4 4
Morris, Derek  30 NYR  D  UFA  3.917 3.95
Hatcher, Derian  37 PHI  D  UFA  3.5 3.5 Retired
Ohlund, Mattias  32 VAN  D  UFA  3.5 3.5
Spacek, Jaroslav  35 BUF  D  UFA  3.333 3.3
Boynton, Nick  30 FLA  D  UFA  2.95 2.95
Havelid, Niclas  36 NJD  D  UFA  2.7 2.9 Signed in Europe
Boucher, Philippe  36 PIT  D  UFA  2.5 2.5
De Vries, Greg  36 NAS  D  UFA  2.5 2.75
Sydor, Darryl  37 DAL  D  UFA  2.5 2.5
Skrastins, Karlis  34 FLA  D  UFA  2.4 2.4
Warrener, Rhett  33 CGY  D  UFA  2.35 2.5
Backman, Christian  29 CLB  D  UFA  2.3 3.4
Gauthier, Denis  32 LAK  D  UFA  2.1 2.2
Kalinin, Dmitri  28 PHX  D  UFA  2.1 2.1
Gill, Hal  34 PIT  D  UFA  2.075 2.1
Mara, Paul  29 NYR  D  UFA  1.95 1.95
Bouillon, Francis  33 MTL  D  UFA  1.875 1.875
Skoula, Martin  29 MIN  D  UFA  1.8 1.9
Dandenault, Mathieu  33 MTL  D  UFA  1.725 1.75
Komisarek, Mike  27 MTL  D  UFA  1.7 1.9
Beauchemin, Francois  29 ANA  D  UFA  1.65 1.65
Brisebois, Patrice  38 MTL  D  UFA  1.5 0.75
Leopold, Jordan  28 CGY  D  UFA  1.5 1.5 Rights traded to FLA
Alberts, Andrew  28 PHI  D  UFA  1.25 1.4
Malik, Marek  34 TBL  D  UFA  1.25 1.25
Seidenberg, Dennis  27 CAR  D  UFA  1.2 1.2
Bergeron, Marc-Andre  28 MIN  D  UFA  1.116 1.691
Numminen, Teppo  40 BUF  D  UFA  1.1 1.1
Foster, Kurtis  27 MIN  D  UFA  1.025 1.025
Melichar, Josef  30 TBL  D  UFA  1 1
Vaananen, Ossi  28 VAN  D  UFA  1 1
Kukkonen, Lasse  27 PHI  D  UFA  0.875 0.9
Hedican, Bret  38 ANA  D  UFA  0.871 0.871
Cullimore, Jassen  36 FLA  D  UFA  0.83 0.83
Montador, Steve  29 BOS  D  UFA  0.8 0.8
Hnidy, Shane  33 BOS  D  UFA  0.757 0.76
Chelios, Chris  47 DET  D  UFA  0.75 0.75
Tanabe, David  28 CAR  D  UFA  0.75 0.9
Tjarnqvist, Daniel  32 COL  D  UFA  0.75 0.75
Zanon, Greg  29 NAS  D  UFA  0.725 0.75
Scuderi, Rob  30 PIT  D  UFA  0.713 0.725
Koistinen, Ville  27 NAS  D  UFA  0.7 0.7
Weaver, Mike  31 STL  D  UFA  0.7 0.7 Signed extension
Pock, Thomas  27 NYI  D  UFA  0.667 0.685
Semenov, Alexei  28 SJS  D  UFA  0.65 0.65
Strudwick, Jason  33 EDM  D  UFA  0.65 0.65
Huskins, Kent  30 SJS  D  UFA  0.625 0.65
Klee, Ken  38 PHX  D  UFA  0.625 1.25
Niskala, Janne  27 TBL  D  UFA  0.6 0.6
Oduya, Johnny  27 NJD  D  UFA  0.6 0.6 Signed extension
Walker, Matt  29 CHI  D  UFA  0.6 0.6
Davison, Rob  29 VAN  D  UFA  0.56 0.56
Baumgartner, Nolan  33 VAN  D  UFA  0.55 0.55
Nycholat, Lawrence  30 COL  D  UFA  0.55 0.6
Johnson, Aaron  26 CHI  D  UFA  0.525 0.525
Henry, Alex  29 MTL  D  UFA  0.5 0.5
Janik, Doug  29 MTL  D  UFA  0.5 0.5
Lee, Chris  28 NYI  D  UFA  0.5 0.5
Mojzis, Tomas  27 MIN  D  UFA  0.5 0.5
Richardson, Luke  40 OTT  D  UFA  0.5 0.5
Helmer, Bryan  36 WAS  D  UFA  0.475 0.475
Heward, Jamie  38 TOR  D  UFA  0.475 0.475
MacKenzie, Aaron  28 COL  D  UFA  0.475 0.475
Sloan, Tyler  28 WAS  D  UFA  0.475 0.475 Signed extension
Murphy, Cory  31 TBL  D  UFA  0.412 0.875

 

Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Especially as it pertains to J-Bo.

But I doubt any connection Joe Nieuwendyk had to Jay Bouwmeester will be enough for the kid from Edmonton to sign with the Stars. Let alone, give them any kind of a discount. You have to figure he'll command somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million per year.

The Stars have $41.734 million already tied up in salary next year. Last I checked, NHL Numbers had not updated the Stars numbers to include Lehtinen's deal. And although they have 14.568 in cap space, we already know Tom Hicks won't authorize Nieuwendyk to spend to the cap. So unless something surprising on the financial front happens, like Hicks accepting a midnight bid to buy the Rangers or a shocking decision to sell his 50% stake in Liverpool FC (I'm hoping for this for reasons not related to the Stars, BTW), that won't change.

Of course, what the Stars' budget this offseason is is anybody's guess. But Mike Heika did write Sunday that:

Stars owner Tom Hicks wouldn't reveal the budget for next season, saying it is still up in the air, but all indications are that it will be much closer to the $40.8 million salary cap floor than the $56.8 million ceiling.

The midpoint between the floor and the ceiling is $48.8 million. So for the sake of this exercise, I'm going to assume the budget is somewhere around $47 million. With that in mind, the most I think you'll see the Stars spend on a defenseman when free agency opens is going to be $2.5 million tops.

So which blue liners would be likely candidates to come here?

Well, even thought Darryl Sydor was a shadow of his self even two years ago, let alone 10 years ago during the Stars Stanley Cup run, I still think he's going to be on the Stars' radar because of the familiarity that both sides have with each other. And because of the financial restrictions involved.

It also wouldn't surprise me if Philippe Boucher makes a return. Both he and Sydor made $2.5 million. And if anything, both players' values have fallen. You could get either player in here for about $2 million a year I would think.

Outside of those two, the only free agent in the $2 million per year price range that's shown any hint of offensive production is Paul Mara of the New York Rangers. He posted six goals and 36 assists in the 2003-04 season, then followed that up with a career high 15 goals and 32 assists in the 2005-06 season.

But since moving to the hockey hotbeds of Boston and New York the past two seasons, his production dropped dramatically down to 11 goals combined the last three seasons. Perhaps a change of scenery back out West could re-ignite that offensive production.

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney signed an extension with Calgary and Peter Budaj re-upped with Colorado. Mikael Tellqvist of Bufflo signed in Europe as did Karri Ramo.

Which leaves...

 

Player Age Team Pos Status 08-09 Cap Hit 08-09 Salary Status
Khabibulin, Nikolai  36 CHI  G  UFA  6.75 6.75
Fernandez, Manny  34 BOS  G  UFA  4.333 4.75
Roloson, Dwayne  39 EDM  G  UFA  3.667 3
Biron, Martin  31 PHI  G  UFA  3.5 3.5
Kolzig, Olaf  39 TOR  G  UFA  2.5 1.5
Legace, Manny  36 STL  G  UFA  2.15 2.5
Gerber, Martin  34 TOR  G  UFA  1.85 3.7
Niittymaki, Antero  29 PHI  G  UFA  1.225 1.375
Garon, Mathieu  31 PIT  G  UFA  1.1 1
Norrena, Fredrik  35 CLB  G  UFA  0.85 0.9
Labarbera, Jason  29 VAN  G  UFA  0.825 0.85
Johnson, Brent  32 WAS  G  UFA  0.812 0.825
Raycroft, Andrew  29 COL  G  UFA  0.8 0.8
Tellqvist, Mikael  29 BUF  G  UFA  0.8 0.8 Signed in Europe
Conklin, Ty  33 DET  G  UFA  0.75 0.75
Joseph, Curtis  42 TOR  G  UFA  0.7 0.7
Weekes, Kevin  34 NJD  G  UFA  0.688 0.7
Boucher, Brian  32 SJS  G  UFA  0.65 0.65
Sanford, Curtis  29 VAN  G  UFA  0.65 0.65
Denis, Marc  31 MTL  G  UFA  0.6 0.6
Schaefer, Nolan  29 MIN  G  UFA  0.575 0.6
Anderson, Craig  28 FLA  G  UFA  0.55 0.575
Danis, Yann  28 NYI  G  UFA  0.55 0.55
Sabourin, Dany  28 EDM  G  UFA  0.512 0.525
Clemmensen, Scott  31 NJD  G  UFA  0.5 0.5
Dubielewicz, Wade  30 CLB  G  UFA  0.5 0.5
MacDonald, Joey  29 NYI  G  UFA  0.487 0.5
Munroe, Scott  27 PHI  G  UFA  0.475 0.475

 

Yeah, you remember Brent KRAHN!, right? His Dallas Stars career thus far has consisted of playing mop up duty in the third period of a 6-2 loss to the Blackhawks in which Dave Tippett decided since the Stars' defense wasn't going to help Marty Turco out in the first two periods, he'd just go ahead and give Turks a rest. Good news is, we might get another chance to yell KRAHN! at some next season as both he and Matt Climie signed one-year, two way deals for the upcoming season.

Out of his list, the biggest name is Nikolai Khabibulin. Chicago was forced to keep him and newly signed free agent Cristobal Huet after they placed the veteran Russian goaltender on waivers last September but found no takers. On July 1, 2008, general manager Dale Tallon signed Huet to a four year, $22.5 million deal on July 1, 2008 and represents a cap hit of 5.625 million for the next three years. As a result, the Hawks were forced to eat over $12 million in salary at the goaltender position.

Despite the fact Khabibulin led the Hawks to their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 1995, the financial constraints they put themselves in last summer will force them to let Khabi walk.

As for the Stars, financial constraints of their own will force them to look in the backup goaltender bargain bin if Jonas Gustavsson elects not to sign with them. If he doesn't sign, fear not because there are several appealing options, including Jason LaBarbera, Brent Johnson, Andrew Raycroft, Kevin Weekes, Curtis Sanford, Brian Boucher, Dany Sabourin, Wade Dubielewicz and as BW mentioned, Scott Clemmensen, who filled in admirably for New Jersey last winter when Marty Brodeur went out with a torn biceps.

In 39 starts, Clemmensen posted a 2.39 GAA and went 25-13-1. He made $500,000 last year and should see a nice pay raise. Whether that raise is enough to put him out of the Stars' grasp remains to be seen.

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