We don’t have a marquee defenseman available on the free agent market this offseason. In the past few years we’ve seen a couple big-name players on the blue line sign with different teams, including Dougie Hamilton to the New Jersey Devils and Alex Pietrangelo to the Vegas Golden Knights. We won’t get a deal anything close to those two in 2022. Let’s take a look at some of the top defensemen available this offseason.
2022 NHL Free Agency: Defense
John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
2021-22 stats: 6 goals, 41 assists
Klingberg had 47 points in 74 games last season and it’s been a while since his best season back in 2017-18, when he had 67 points in 82 games. In 2019-20 and 2020-21, Klingberg was on a decent point pace in each season and remains a very strong offensive defenseman. Klingberg’s last contract was for seven years at $29.5 million, $4.25M per season. He could command close to double that figure on this new deal. The Stars have plenty of cap space to bring Klingberg back and there’s no reason he shouldn’t return. The one thing that could prevent the Stars from re-signing Klingberg are RFAs Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger. Both could command a lot of that cap space, which sits at around $18M.
Nick Leddy, St. Louis Blues
2021-22 stats: 3 goals, 21 assists
The market for defensemen this offseason is very thin. Thus why Leddy is the second name on this list. At 31 years old, Leddy’s best days are behind him. Can he still contribute on the power play? Definitely. After being traded to the St. Louis Blues before the deadline, Leddy had eight points in 20 games. He needed 55 games to reach 16 points with the Detroit Red Wings, one of the worst teams in the NHL last season. Leddy may not get a lengthy contract but he’s not a bad middle-pairing defenseman on a good team. He also has value on a second PP unit. Leddy should have plenty of teams calling.
Josh Manson, Colorado Avalanche
2021-22 stats: 6 goals, 10 assists
Manson helped the Avs win the Cup on the second pairing with Jack Johnson after being dealt from the Anaheim Ducks during the season. He’s not going to light up the score sheet but Manson is a steady two-way defenseman who brings good size and can play in all situations. Well, except the power play. Manson did come close to putting up 40 points with the Ducks back in 2017-18, so he has some offensive upside. Manson is also 30 years old, but could land a decent-sized contract at around 4-5 years. The Avs may let Manson walk considering the rest of the free agents Colorado has to decide on.
Other defensemen available: PK Subban, Anton Stralman, Justin Schultz, Alexander Edler, Keith Yandle, Ian Cole, Ben Chiarot, Nikita Zadorov