There will be a number of very intriguing veteran free agent defensemen come July 1st for teams looking to bolster their blue line. The market for goaltenders is considerably less exciting overall with no big names options set to be available but a handful of names worthy of taking a chance on.
1. Mike Green
Green is likely to bring home the richest contract of any UFA defensemen this season due to his consistent high-end offensive production and prowess on the power play. Green should still have some good years ahead of him at just 29 years old and put together a strong season for the Capitals last year with 45 points (10G-35A-45P). The biggest knock on Green over his career has been his reliability in his own end as a defensemen but he has made strides in that department over the past few seasons.
2. Francois Beauchemin
The rugged defender was a workhorse for the Ducks this past season averaging a team-high 22:44 TOI/GP and 2:13 TOI/G on short handed. At 6'1 210lbs Beauchemin is solidly built and brings a physical edge with his in-your-face style of play but can also contribute offensively as evidence by his 11 goals and 23 points for Anaheim last season. Even though he's a seasoned vet at 35 years old, Beauchemin can still log big minutes and be a very capable top-4 defensemen for teams looking to acquire his talents.
3. Cody Franson
The 27 year old Franson represents one of the youngest UFA free agent defensemen options and is another rear guard regarded more for his offensive abilities than defensive. Franson began the 2014-2015 season as a top option on the Maple Leafs blue line averaging 21:23 TOI/G and adding 32 points (6G-26A-32P) in 55 games. After being dealt to Nashville, Franson played a significantly reduced role on a deep Predators defensive unit seeing his TOI/G drop to just 15:25 and managing only four points (1G-3A-4P) in 23 games. Franson brings size and a heavy right-handed shot that is a real weapon on the power play.
4. Paul Martin
Mr. Dependable, Paul Martin, hasn't let his age, 34, effect his on-ice play as he continues to play over 20 minutes per game on a perennial Cup contender Penguins team. Martin's game is that of a puck-mover. His offensive numbers are fairly pedestrian, 20 points (3G-17A-20P) in 74 games played, but Martin is great in his own end and moves the play forward offensively. Adding to his value is that Martin is also a veteran of 85 Stanley Cup playoff games and has been extremely durable in his 11 NHL seasons.
5. Johnny Oduya
Oduya doesn't provide the flash that some of the other names on this list but his contributions to the 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks should not be overlooked. Oduya won't offer much in the way of offense but is as defensively responsible as they come. The Swedish defender absolutely has top-4 abilities and plenty of big-game experience to go with it.
6. Christian Ehrhoff
Injuries limited Ehrhoff to just 49 games for the Penguins last season but his play, when healthy, was encouraging. Ehrhoff was used heavily in all situations in Pittsburgh and his 21:45 TOI/G was third-highest on the team. He will definitely look to improve upon the 14 points (3G-11A-14P) he posted last season while continuing to excel at moving the puck on the breakout and rush.
7. Andrej Sekera
The addition of the smooth-skating Sekera wasn't enough to push the LA Kings into the playoffs last season but that shouldn't stop the defensemen from generating plenty of interest when free agency opens. Sekera put up 23 points in 73 games split between Carolina and Los Angeles while playing top-4 minutes.
8. Robyn Regehr
Regehr is no longer the elite shutdown defensemen he was in his prime but remains a very solid second-pairing option. Offense has never been Regehr's calling card but he can eat up 18-20 minutes a night with responsible defensive play.
9. Adam McQuaid
Mcquaid is beloved by Bruins fans for his pugilistic skills but don't let that fool you into thinking he's a one-dimensional player. McQuaid played over 18 minutes per game last season in Boston and can take care of business in the defensive zone. The 28 year old has struggled to stay healthy in his six NHL seasons but his combination of size and skill will be highly sought after this off-season.
10. Barret Jackman
Jackman plays a simple game. He's a durable, conservative, tough as nails defensemen that brings a team-first attitude and plenty of leadership. Jackman is getting on his years at 34 but that won't stop him from finding a home in free agency.
1. Antti Niemi
Niemi was solid in net last season for the Sharks posting a .914SV% and 2.59GAA in 61 games. While his GAA was .20 above his career average of 2.39, the inflated numbers were likely a result of a disappointing performances across the board in San Jose. Niemi is the best, outside of Devan Dubnyk, of a weak class of goalie free agents.
2. Karri Ramo
Ramo shared the net with Jonas Hiller last season in Calgary and could fit as a 1B option for teams seeking help in goal. Ramo's .912SV% and 2.60GAA is very middle of the road production but the lack of goalie depth available will play in his favor.
3. Jhonas Enroth
Enroth has youth on his side at just 26 years old but has yet to cement himself as an NHL starter. At 5'10 166lbs, Enroth is fairly undersized for a goaltender but has shown the ability to be an above average option in net in stretches. Signing Enroth has definite potential to be a high-reward acquisition if it turns out that playing for the anti-compeitive Sabres inflated his numbers.
4. Anders Lindback
Lindback started just 15 games last season but put up a .924SV%. Lindback presents another gamble of a signing. He's young at 27 years old but very unproven as he has never played in more than 24 games in a season. For a team looking to create competition in net, Lindback would be a nice addition.
5. Michal Neuvirth
The third Sabres goalie on our list has more starting experience than either Enroth or Lindback but is just as unproven. Neuvirth finished the year with a goals-against average just under 3.00 but has shown the potential to be a solid starter. A good fit could make all the difference for him.