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Breaking Down The Top Free Agent Defensemen

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
With free agency starting on July 1 and the Panthers with money to spend, Panthers broadcasters Randy Moller, Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay will break down the free agent class with their top five lists (top 10 for defensemen). FloridaPanthers.com will unveil the lists over the next two weeks. The Panthers free agents were not included in their lists.


Following the release of the top centers on June 20th, left wings were unveiled on June 22nd, right wings were unveiled on June 24th, defensemen on June 27th and finally goaltenders on June 29th.

Make sure you keep on coming back to FloridaPanthers.com, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter to stay up to date on all of the latest free agency news.

*Lists were compiled in the third week of June. Player has resigned with team since then.

Defensemen

Ed Jovanovski
Christian Ehrhoff
Joni Pitkanen

Randy Moller's Top 10 Defensemen

1. Ed Jovanovski: Passion and skill is still there. Could be a solid addition for one-two year commitment.
2. Kevin Bieksa*: Solid top four d-man. Will command a long term deal. Tough as nails.
3. Christian Ehrhoff: Stock has risen for this 28-year old. Loves Vancouver but might relocate for chance to be a top two guy.
4. Joni Pitkanen: Excels with his puck moving talents. Just 27-years old. Will find a home and a nice contract.
5. James Wisniewski: The 27-year old is an offensive threat. Scored 38 points in 75 games including 10 goals this past season split between the Islanders and Canadiens.
6. Andrei Markov*: Was injured for most of season but 32-year old has posted 40-plus points in four straight seasons during his career. Great on the power play.
7. Andy Greene Unknown by most throughout the league. Played in a defensively sound New Jersey system but could add some offense from back end.
8. Jonathan Ericsson: Played mostly fifth-sixth d minutes on stacked Detroit team but can be more. Very steady.
9. Eric Brewer*: Had a revolation after joining Tampa Bay for stretch run. Was one of their best, if not the best blueliners on team in run to Eastern Conference Championship series.
10. Nicklas Lidstrom*: One of the all time great blueliners. Even though he's an UFA, can't see him playing anywhere other than Detroit.

Steve Goldstein's Top 10 Defensemen

1. Nicklas Lidstrom*: One of the best ever. It'll be Detroit or retire.
2. Kevin Bieksa*: Emerged as a super all around player in the postseason. Fought off injuries tout himself in line to be a high end free agent. 
3. Andrei Markov*: Off a serious knee injury so a question because of that. When healthy a solid point man on power play and one of the top offensive skilled d-men in the NHL.
4. Christian Ehrhoff: Like Bieksa, benefits from playoff run with Vancouver. Good size, smart and can move the puck.
5. Joni Pitkanen: Excellent puck mover. Gets out of his own zone well. Has always been underrated.
6. Ed Jovanovski: Jovocop is a free agent again and this will likely be his last contract. Can still do his thing when healthy and brings a world of experience at this point in career.
7. Eric Brewer*: Traded from St. Louis to Tampa at deadline and played well setting himself up well. Good all around player. 
8. Andy Greene: Still young and under the radar playing in New Jersey. Greene can still improve and could be a nice FA find.
9. Shane O'Brien: A player you don't appreciate until you watch him closely. Sound defensively and will always stick up for his teammates. Plays with some jam.
10. James Wisniewski: Brought offense to Montreal after trade from the Islanders. Have to watch him in own zone but can get up and go for a defenseman.

Bill Lindsay's Top 10 Defensemen

1. Ed Jovanovski: Older and injury prone but would provide leadership and would think he would love to return and put on a Panther jersey. If he can stay healthy still has a few years left in the tank.
2. Andrei Markov*: Coming off major knee surgery but is one of the games best when healthy. A premier defenceman. Plays in every situation.
3. Kevin Bieksa*: Would command pretty big bucks especially after a stellar playoff run with Vancouver but is as solid as they come.
4. James Wisniewski: Can quarterback the power play and put up points from the back end. Question marks about his ability in his own end but no doubting his offensive upside.
5. Christian Ehrhoff: 27 and coming off a great year in Vancouver. Will command big bucks. In his prime but will be surprised if he doesn't go back to Vancouver. 40-plus points last three years including a career high 50 this year.
6. Joni Pitkanen: Good offensive d-man can move the puck well. Still fairly young and can play big minutes.
7. Jonathan Ericsson: Steady rearguard who has progressed steadily the last couple years in Detroit. Would be a solid depth defenseman. 
8. Andy Greene: 28-year old d-man that has been a mainstay on defense the last five years in New Jersey. Had 37 points two years ago and dropped to 23 last year but is quite versatile and would be a nice addition to any team.
9. Eric Brewer*: Played well for Tampa after being traded from St Louis late in the year. Over 750 games and only 32 yrs old. Was once considered among the top defensemen in the league. Not a premier d-man anymore but would add vast experience and leadership and did manage a career high nine goals last year. Injuries have bothered him but he will draw some attention from teams.
10. Nicklas Lidstrom*: He is a free agent but can you see him in anything but a Red Wing uniform. I for one can't. One of the best d-men of all time.
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