With Michal Rozsival, Adrian Aucoin, and Kurt Sauer coming off their contracts being Unrestricted Free Agents, the Phoenix Coyotes have some great options to fill the blue line. Rozsival at 5M, Aucoin at 2M, and Sauer at 1.75M, that is a bucket load of money to go after a top tier UFA like Ryan Suter or Matt Carle. It also gives you money to extend a qualifying offer to your current Restricted Free Agents. Players who saw some NHL time such as David Rundblad and Chris Summers. It also clears the deck for former first round pick Brandon Gormley to earn a spot to start the season.
Some of the UFA defensemen who signed with their current team and the effect on the market is below. These players have set the bar for their contract length, compensation, and what they gave up to stay with in their current market.
- Cory Sorich-Calgary Flames. 33 years old, 6’4″ 207 lbs from Saskatoon, Cory played in the Buffalo Sabres organization with the Sabres and Rochester Americans of the AHL. In 2000 he signed with Tampa Bay and stayed there until 2007. He developed his offensive game and started scoring 14G and 15A per season as his new norm. The Flames signed him in 2007 and he has had up (18G) and down (5G) years. Calgary signed him for 2M for 2 years. For his defensive play and the scoring threat he brings, this signing is a Great Value.
- Hal Gill-Nashville Predators. 37 yrs old, 6’7″ 241 lbs left handed beast from Concord, MA. 7 G, 9A average. Defensive shut down machine. Penalty kill and space filler. 2 M per year for 2 years. Worth the money as long as he stays serious injury free.
- Dennis Wideman-Calgary Flames. The pride of the Elmira Sugar Kings, Dennis is a 29 year old right hander who stands 6’0” and tips the scale at 200 lbs. He’s averaged 10G and 32A the past two seasons with Panthers in 2010-2011 and the Capitals last year. Previous seasons with the Bruins showed his scoring touch at 13 goals per. He got Calgary GM Jay Feaster to give him 5 years at 5.25 M per season. Calgary missed the playoffs by 5 points and had a goal differential of -24. Calgary Overpaid for what they need.
- Brian Lee-Tampa Bay. 25 year old product of Moorhead, MN is a 6’3″ 205 lb right handed defenseman that was the 9th overall pick of the 2005 draft by Ottawa.The Moorhead Spud and Univ of North Dakota product played for the US World Junior team, the Binghamton Senators of the AHL, and Ottawa before being signed to play in Tampa Bay. He is not a goal scorer or an assist producer. He is a shutdown player. Tampa Bay can put the goals in the net, they need to prevent the other team from scoring. 2 Years at 1.15 million average. Value Signing.
Who is available at a price the Coyotes can pursue knowing what they have in the hopper?
- Matt Carle Philadelphia Flyers. 6″0″ 205 lb lefty. Matt is a 27 yr old Alaska native who began in the AAA U18 Alaska All-Stars then joined the US National U17 program. Went into the National Development Program, back to the National U17 team, then the U18 prior to going to University of Denver for 3 years. Originally property of the Sharks, he found a home in Philadelphia. Put him down for 4 goals and almost 30 assists a season. Cap hit of 3.4M per year. He’ll command 4M due to his offensive production and ability to stay healthy (missed 2 games in last 3 seasons). Coyotes have puck moving and shooting defensivemen. Not a need for the Coyotes.
Conclusion: This is not a strong defensive talent pool. The cost to obtain a role player will be under 1M per season. Spend your money elsewhere.