Top 3 free agent defensemen still available on the market.
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch  

Top 3 free agent defensemen still available on the market.

NHL teams looking to make significant additions to their blue line are rapidly running out of options.

Jonathan Larivee

Free agency in the National Hockey League was both fast and furious on July 1st, resulting in a huge number of players coming off of the board very early into the free agent process.

As a result the options that remain on the market are fairly limited as I've already highlighted in my list of the top 3 free agent forwards still available, and unfortunately that remains true when it comes to the blue line as well. Teams looking to make significant additions to their blue line aren't likely going to be able to do so via free agency this late into the process, but there are some options that could help round out a team's defensive pairings.

Here are the top 3 free agent defensemen still available on the market as of right now:

Adam Boqvist

A surprisingly young option on the free agent market, Boqvist was bought out of his contract by the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this summer. At just 23 years old the former 2018 first round draft pick (8th overall) of the Columbus Blue Jackets has one big knock against him and that comes to his inability to remain healthy for any extended length of time.

There's no question that Boqvist is an effective player when he is on the ice, but he has never been able to play more than just 52 games in a single NHL season. This season Boqvist appeared in just 35 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, eventually finishing the season while injured on the sidelines, scoring 1 goal and adding 9 assists for a total of 10 points.

Boqvist's previous deal carried an average annual value and salary cap hit of $2.6 million per season and I do wonder if he will be able to approach that number this summer due to the concerns about his injury issues.

Ryan Suter

Suter was once again the target of a contract buyout this summer and as a result once again finds himself an unrestricted free agent as a result. The Stars felt that it was better to buyout the final year of Suter's deal which carried an average annual value and cap hit of $3.65 million as they presumably were unable to find any potential suitors for a trade.

As a result of his steady decline on the ice it seems likely that Suter will be a bottom pairing type of player moving forward, as at 39 years of age I simply don't see him turning it around next season. That being said Suter could be a very useful depth addition to a blue line due to his wealth of experience, and will likely come at a significant discount when compared to his previous contract with the Dallas Stars.

Suter has 2 goals and 15 assists for the Stars during the regular season for a total of 17 points, and finished the campaign with a plus minus rating of +14.

Tyson Barrie

Tyson Barrie has been known as an offensive defenseman and power play specialist throughout his career in the NHL but had his struggles over the past two seasons as a member of the Nashville Predators.

Barrie appeared in a total of just 65 regular season games for the Predators over those two seasons, scoring 4 goals and adding 23 assists for a total of 27 points over that span, showing that he hasn't completely lost his offensive touch.

Although Barrie carried a significant cap hit of $4.5 million per season on his previous deal, realistically he will be won't be approaching that number on the free agent market this summer.

Prior to to a bit of a slump with the Nashville Predators Barrie did show himself to be an effective point producer from the blue line for a number of teams including the Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, and could very well be capable of replicating that again on another team.

Honorable mention:

Tony Deangelo

Perhaps an unpopular choice, Deangelo has shown to be more trouble than he is worth at times on a variety of teams in the NHL and it is those off ice issues that kept him the list. Personality clashes have resulted in the controversial defenseman playing for 3 different teams over the span of the past 4 seasons, and it seems likely that he is on his way to joining a fourth team next season.

That being said Deangelo is one of the youngest options available on the blue line at just 28 years of age and he has shown the ability to be a productive player on the ice. Deangelo is coming off a season in which he appeared in just 31 games for the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring 3 goals and adding 8 assists for a total of 11 points over that stretch.

Deangelo signed a 1 year deal with the Hurricanes last season that carried an average annual value of $1.675 million for that season, and I suspect his next deal will look somewhat similar.