Top NHL Free Agent defensemen available this summer

david savard canadiens
Apr 17, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman David Savard (58) passes the puck s Florida Panthers defenseman Markus Nutivaara (65) defends during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This summer is a great time for hockey fans. As many start to come down from the excitement of the playoffs, three key events take place. The Seattle Expansion draft, the NHL Draft, and Free Agent Frenzy.

This offseason there will be a number of NHL unrestricted free agents, many of them will be top tier players. It’s never too early to start looking at some of the biggest names that will be available. Yesterday we previewed some of the top forwards, now let’s hit the blue-line.

Top UFA Defensemen heading to NHL Free Agency

Dougie Hamilton: The NHL loves to chase after top-end right-handed defenseman. You saw what Alex Pietrangelo was able to get in this economy, and that’s what 27 year-old Dougie will go after too. He will be expecting a serious increase over his $5.75 million AAV deal, so GM’s better save those dollars. Meanwhile Canes GM Don Waddell tabled discussions last month. “Let’s sit down and see if we can hammer out a deal, put it on the back burner so Dougie can worry about playing hockey at this point,” he explained. It is believed the two sides have a mutual desire to work out a new deal.

nhl unrestricted free agents
Oct 26, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) reacts against the Chicago Blackhawks at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

David Savard: One of the biggest catches at the NHL Trade Deadline, the 30 year-old defenseman will be a prized UFA this summer. It is unlikely that the Tampa Bay Lightning will try to re-sign him. If they do, they will need to move major salary out to make it happen. Regardless, he’s already at the top of a few team’s lists.

Brandon Montour: Another big trade deadline acquisition, Montour may have found a new home with the Panthers. Albeit nothing is set in stone and until he inks a deal he could hit the open market. If that happens, Montour will be a hot commodity in free agency.

nhl free agents
Apr 17, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour (62) and Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) talk against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Larsson: The Edmonton Oilers are hoping to compete for a Stanley Cup. That’s why you never head too much about moving pending UFA’s like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson. While many think the Oilers will re-sign the one-for-one exchange for Taylor Hall, there is a chance he hits the open market and goes elsewhere.

Tyson Barrie: The 29 year-old rearguard took a one year deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Barrie bet on himself and it appears the move should pay off. He has 37 points in 43 games this season and will command big bucks by any team looking for a PP quarterback.

Jamie Oleksiak: This 28 year-old pending UFA was sought after heavily at the deadline. Elliotte Friedman mentioned Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was frustrated after not being able to make a deal he was looking for. “I can’t say for sure he was the only target but I do believe one of the deals they tried to make was Jamie Oleksiak in Dallas,” he said. “Who I do believe the Stars are going to do everything they can to keep him long term.” Should Oleksiak hit the open market the Stars will find it hard to retain him.

Zdeno Chara: Will he retire after this season? That’s the biggest question, but if he doesn’t the 44 year-old future hall-of-famer will get some consideration in free agency. He has 9 points in 45 games for the Capitals. No one is signing him for offense, it’s all about his defending and leadership in the room.