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Grading the Free Agents: Defensemen

My grades for the free agent contracts given to defensemen this Summer.

Former Blue, Nikita Nikitin
Former Blue, Nikita Nikitin
Christian Petersen

Up next, the defensemen. Once again, I'm going to include value in the grade. I'm not going to look at the guys that signed for the AHL (sorry Tyson Strachan!) (Grade C fwiw)

Mark Fayne 4 years $3.6m AAV Grade: A

I thought Fayne would have been a major upgrade in Carolina. In a couple of years this contract should look great.

Anton Stralman 5 years $4.5m AAV Grade: A-

Stralman is in the top 100 in Corsi over the last 5 years, and number 50 in Corsi Rel. This looks pretty good.

Cody Franson 1 year $3.3m Grade: B+

It concerns me that the Leafs are doing things that make sense. This deal seems right on the mark.

P.K. Subban 8 years $9m AAV Grade: B

Subban is a really good defenseman.  Is he the best in the league?  Probably not.  Is he 25 GVA better than Pietrangelo?  Nope.  These long deals are overpays up front with underpays in the back half.  It's a big gamble.  The cap has to go up.  The player has to stay good.  The cap can't go up so much that the player holds out.  Too much risk, in my opinion.

Matt Niskanen 7 years $5.7m AAV Grade: B

I would apply the same logic to Niskanen's contract that I applied to Stastny's. It's a good contract but not great. They paid what they had to pay to land him. The Caps are better with Niskanen than they were without. I wonder what this means for Mike Green's future in Washington.

Christian Ehrhoff 1 year $4m Grade: B

A very reasonable number for Ehrhoff. I'm just not sure that letting Niskanen walk and replacing him with Ehrhoff represents progress.

Mike Weaver 1 year $1.75m Grade: B

I have a man-crush on Mike Weaver, but even I think this is a bit of an overpay. Weaver has a role and does it really well.

Justin Schultz 1 year $3.67m Grade: B

I think Schultz is a really good young defensemen. This is a bit much to pay a 24-year-old RFA. On the other hand, Nikitin got $4.5m.

Anton Volchenkov 1 year $1m Grade : B-

Decent Corsi numbers. Hard to go wrong at this price.

Michael Del Zotto 1 year $1.3m Grade: C+

A very low risk gamble. He could easily out-perform this contract.

Dan Boyle 2 years $4.5m AAV Grade: C+

I'm not that impressed with Boyle. Good Corsi numbers, but he has only been producing about 0.5 PPG. 35+ contract. A lot of down-side risk without a lot of upside benefit. For this money they should have kept Stralman.

Andrej Meszaros 1 year $4.1m Grade: C

More money than I would have spent, but a decent defense first type guy.

Brooks Orpik 5 years $5.5m AAV Grade: C

A lot of people seem to view this as a disaster. I see it as an overpay, but not a massive one. Orpik is over the line at times but he's unpleasant to play against. By the last couple years of the contract, the Cap should be up around $85-90m. Worst case scenario, you buy out 2 years at 3% of the cap.

Nick Schultz 1 year $1.2m Grade: C-

Schultz has always been my go-to guy when I need a sample of bad Corsi. At this price, I'd rather have Volchenov or even Del Zotto.

Stephane Robidas 3 years $3m AAV Grade: D+

He's better than Tom Gilbert, but this is a huge gamble given his injury. Plus, it's a 35+ contract.

Tom Gilbert 2 years $2.8m AAV Grade: D

Gilbert put up 45 points in 2008-09. He's put up a total of 46 in the last 3 seasons combined.

Nikita Nikitin 2 years $4.5m AAV Grade: D

So a guy who was a 7/8 in St. Louis and a 5/6 in Columbus gets paid a little more than Shattenkirk. Makes perfect sense.

Clayton Stoner 4 years $3.25m AAV Grade: D

It's hard to assess the value of defensive defensemen. Stoner was number 1378 in Corsi over the last 5 years. That's Manny Malhotra territory. OK so it wasn't that hard.

Willie Mitchell 2 years $4.2m AAV Grade: D-

Wow. 35+ contract. I thought Mitchell looked old and slow whenever I saw him. This seems like 2-3 times what I can justify. On the other hand, not the worst contract handed out by Florida this Summer.

Deryk Engelland 3 years $2.9m AAV Grade: F

3 years $2.9m total would have been an overpay. Truculence!

Tim Gleason 1 year $1.2m Grade: F

I like Tim Gleason. I appreciate all he has done in Carolina. Unfortunately, he has looked done the last couple years. With Ron Francis taking over from JR, the Canes fans were hoping for a fresh start, a new direction. And nothing happened. Nothing. Then RF brought back Gleason. Not that Gleason is necessarily worse than Nick Schultz or Volchenkov. It just looks like more of the same.  Looking like JR is still in charge = F.