Many teams view US Thanksgiving – typically around the one-quarter mark of the season – as the benchmark for evaluating their teams and determining what areas need to be addressed. One area that most teams are always looking to shore up is their defense corps. Some teams will be after top four blueliners while others will be after depth options. There isn’t a big list of players available at this time but here’s a closer look at those that have had their names out there in trade talks so far.
Calvin de Haan (NY Islanders) – On top of shopping goalie Jaroslav Halak, the 25 year old blueliner is also believed to be available. He is a solid stay-at-home second pairing option although he doesn’t bring much offensively to the table. He has a manageable cap hit of a little under $2MM this season but his qualifying offer in the summer jumps to $2.9MM due to the back-loaded nature of his contract.
Deryk Engelland (Calgary) – The Flames made him available earlier this month but there hasn’t been much interest in the 34 year old. He’s off to a decent start with Calgary this year, picking up four points in 22 games but he has seen his average ice time jump up over 18 minutes a night, a career high for him. He has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $2.9MM. For teams that are looking for more of a physical presence on their third line, he will be an option although his cap hit is high for his role.
Jack Johnson (Columbus) – The Blue Jackets are believed to be looking to clear some salary and Johnson, who has a cap hit of $4.35MM this season and next, is one of the players GM Jarmo Kekalainen is willing to move. He hasn’t turned in to the top pairing offensive threat that earned saw him drafted third overall by Carolina in 2005 but he has averaged more than 24 minutes per night the last four years. His minutes are down a bit this year (just under 22 per game) but he is still a top four option in a market largely devoid of them.
Ryan Murphy (Carolina) – The former first round pick (12th overall in 2011) has failed to lock down a full-time role in this, his fourth NHL season. In an effort to get him some game action, the Hurricanes recently sent Murphy to the AHL on a conditioning stint. He has had considerable offensive success at the AHL level (66 points in 86 games) but that has yet to translate to much NHL success (36 points in 128 contests). He has another year past this one remaining on his deal with a cap hit just under $800K and could be a fit for a team looking for some mobility and offense from their back end. However, it’s believed that GM Ron Francis is looking to package him with other pieces for a defensive upgrade.
Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis) – Back at the draft, it was widely expected that the Blues would deal Shattenkirk but no deal came to fruition. With the team already having Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester on big money, long-term deals beyond this season, the expectation is that he will be moved at some point during the season. He’s off to a strong start this year (14 points in 21 games) and will almost assuredly be the most expensive to acquire among potentially available defenders.
Michael Stone (Arizona) – Last week, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal noted (via Twitter) that the pending UFA is on the market. The Coyotes sit last in the league in the standings so it’s not surprising that they’d be looking to move any pending free agents. Stone has dealt with two separate injuries this season and has played in just nine games as a result but had 36 points last season while playing over 22 minutes per game. With a cap hit and salary of $4MM, there should be a lot of suitors for his services.