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Top free agent defensemen: Kevin Shattenkirk set to hit market

Karl Alzner, Andrei Markov also among those expected to be available July 1

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

Kevin Shattenkirk was the big catch before the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline, thought to be the final piece of the puzzle for the Washington Capitals to win the Stanley Cup. Though the Capitals fell short, Shattenkirk is one of the best defensemen in the League, and one of many expected to become an unrestricted free agent.

With the NHL Expansion Draft and the 2017 NHL Draft in the rearview mirror, the attention shifts to July 1, when teams can bolster their roster by signing UFAs.


[RELATED: Top free agent wings to hit market | Top free agent centers to hit market] takes a closer look at the top UFA defensemen who could be available when the market opens:


Kevin Shattenkirk, WSH

Shattenkirk, 28, is coming off an NHL career-high 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) in 80 games with the Capitals and St. Louis Blues this season. Though Shattenkirk struggled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (one goal, five assists, minus-4 rating in 13 games) before the Capitals were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Second Round, he is a right-hand shot who finished with the fourth-most points among NHL defensemen.

Selected by the Colorado Avalanche with the No. 14 pick in the 2007 draft, Shattenkirk has 298 points (68 goals, 230 assists) in 490 games with Colorado, St. Louis and Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning were one of many teams to check in with Shattenkirk on Sunday, according to the Tampa Bay Times, though Shattenkirk reportedly turned down a potential trade to the Lightning in January before he was traded to the Capitals on Feb. 27. 

Possible landing spots: Capitals, Lightning, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Shattenkirk nets PPG for OT win


Andrei Markov, MTL

Markov, 38, reportedly is seeking a two-year, $12 million contract after he had 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) and a plus-18 rating in 62 games with the Montreal Canadiens this season. He's 10 games from 1,000 in his NHL career and 28 points from 600, which would put him 13th on the Canadiens' all-time list. 

Selected by Montreal in the sixth round (No. 162) of the 1998 draft, Markov averaged 21:50 of ice time per game, third on the Canadiens behind Shea Weber (25:03) and Jeff Petry (22:06).

Possible landing spot: Canadiens

Video: OTT@MTL: Markov rockets home PPG for second of game


Karl Alzner, WSH

Alzner, who turns 29 on Sept. 24, has not missed a regular-season game in the past seven NHL seasons. He has 117 points (19 goals, 98 assists) and a plus-61 rating in 591 NHL games, all with the Capitals. He has three goals and eight assists in 64 NHL playoff games.

Alzner could be attractive to the Vegas Golden Knights. He was selected by the Capitals with the No. 5 pick in the 2007 draft when Vegas general manager George McPhee was Washington GM. TSN reported the Chicago Blackhawks and Canadiens are two of several teams Alzer has visited during the free agency interview period.

Possible landing spots: Capitals, Golden Knights, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Lightning, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets

Video: OTT@WSH: Alzner blasts one-timer over Condon's glove


Dan Girardi, NYR

Girardi, 33, had the final three years of his contract bought out June 14 after 11 seasons with the Rangers. He had 230 points (46 goals, 184 assists) in 788 regular-season games and helped New York make the playoffs 10 times, including the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

Toughness defined Girardi in New York. He played 651 of a possible 656 regular-season games from his NHL debut on Jan. 27, 2007, through the end of the 2014-15 season despite several injuries, and he was in the lineup for all 12 games in the 2017 playoffs despite three cracked ribs. Since his NHL debut, Girardi leads the League in blocked shots (1,691) and is fourth among defensemen in games (788).

Possible landing spots: Devils, Avalanche, Lightning

Video: NYR@CBJ: Girardi nets SHG with beautiful wrist shot


Trevor Daley, PIT

Daley, 33, had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in 56 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins this season and five points (one goal, four assists) in 21 playoff games to help them win the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season. He's a capable veteran who has 278 points (78 goals, 200 assists), a plus-22 rating and 580 penalty minutes in 894 games with the Penguins, Blackhawks and Dallas Stars. 

Possible landing spots: Red Wings, Bruins

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Daley nets PPG on blistering slap shot


Ron Hainsey, PIT

Hainsey, 36, won the Stanley Cup for the first time in his 14-season NHL career when the Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Final. 

Hainsey, like Daley, was among a group of pending unrestricted free agents Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told to test the market before circling back to him. Hainsey, who is a left-hand shot, had eight points in 25 playoff games and was second on the Penguins in average ice time (21:06) behind pending restricted free agent Brian Dumoulin (21:59).

Possible landing spots: Penguins, Boston Bruins

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm5: Hainsey finishes smooth passing play


Brian Campbell, CHI

Campbell, 38, expressed a desire to play his 18th NHL season with the Blackhawks two days after they were swept by the Predators in the Western Conference First Round. Chicago got younger on defense by acquiring Connor Murphy, 24, from the Coyotes as part of the June 23 trade that sent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, 30, to Arizona, so whether there's room for Campbell remains to be seen.

Campbell had 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) and a plus-12 rating in 80 games with the Blackhawks this season, and no points in four playoff games. 

Possible landing spot: Blackhawks

Video: CHI@NSH: Campbell nets a late go-ahead tally


Johnny Oduya, CHI

Like Campbell, Oduya, who turns 36 on Oct. 1, may have limited options outside of Chicago. He had two goals and seven assists in 52 games with the Blackhawks and Stars this season. He was traded back to Chicago, where he won the Stanley Cup twice (2013, 2015), on Feb. 28 after a season and a half in Dallas.

Selected by the Capitals in the seventh round (No. 221) of the 2001 draft, Oduya was unsigned and played in Sweden before signing with the Devils on July 24, 2006. Oduya has 182 points (37 goals, 145 assists) in 798 regular-season games with the Blackhawks, Stars, Devils and Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets.

Possible landing spot: Blackhawks

Video: CHI@MTL: Oduya nets long-range slapper off deflection

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