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2014 NHL Draft

Defenseman crop gets even smaller

Friday, 07.01.2011 / 11:26 AM

By David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer / Free Agency '11 Blog

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Free Agency '11 Blog
Defenseman crop gets even smaller
As a native of Canton, Mich., James Wisniewski is probably more of a Wolverines fan that a supporter of the Buckeyes, but with his newly christened six-year $33 million contract with Columbus, he might want to look into some season tickets for Ohio State. He can certainly afford it.

Wisniewski's signing takes another big name out of what had been a very deep group of free agent defensemen, but in the flurry to trade negotiating rights over the past few days, Wisniewski, Christian Ehrhoff, Steve Montador, Kevin Bieksa and Andrei Markov have all signed new deals to stay with their current teams or whichever team had acquired their rights. That means what was once a large pool of defensive free agent talent is now that much thinner.

The men who seem best positioned to be the most sought after blueliners on the market might now be Columbus' Jan Hejda or recent Stanley Cup champ Tomas Kaberle, whom the Bruins appear set to let go after making the big move to acquire him at this season's trade deadline.

Obviously that move paid off for Boston, but with many of the top defenseman locked up, it may be time for that move to pay off for Kaberle. Ed Jovanovski or Bryan McCabe could also be able to cash in with the thinner market, but Wisniewski's big deal may have taken the last of the big names out of the equation.
Quote of the Day

What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp