With possible 5th/6th defensemen in Urbom, Larsson, Fraser, Taormina, and Corrente.
While the defense did admirably during he second half of last year, we clearly don't have a consistent point producer. Tallinder is good with his first pass and can lead the rush, while Fayne, Taormina, Larsson, and Urbom are all relatively unproven puckmovers. In lieu of placing so much pressure on our young guys to perform, today's list of buyouts from across the league gives a few more options outside of other UFAs we've been discussing (Ian White, Anton Babchuk, Andy Greene etc). All of the following have been placed on unconditional waivers with the purpose of being bought out.
A veteran puckmover, proven point producer, and former Devil, Souray voiced a desire to leave Edmonton last year, was placed on waivers, and finished out the year in Hershey of the AHL. A victim of his large cap hit (5.4 mill/year) and injury concerns, Souray is, however, only 34 (he turns 35 on July 13th) and will not have a 35+ contract should he sign during the 1st week of free agency. For perspective, in his last 50+ game season, he produced 53 points; however, this was two years ago and he is coming off a broken right hand.
An opinion; For the right price, I'd like to see Lou take a chance on Souray. He did play all of his games down in Hershey, proving that he is back up to speed and over his injuries for the time being. In addition, after going through waivers twice, he could play with quite a chip on his shoulder and with a desire to prove his worth in the NHL. Plus, the fact that he won't be 35 when a contract is likely signed makes him even more desirable. My only worry is that with such a thin crop of defensemen this offseason, his price tag will likely be around 3 million, even coming off an injury. For one year/2-2.5 mill, the reward far outweighs the risk.
After a couple steady years in Chicago, the 25 year old former 3rd overall pick was dealt to the Wild, where he failed to make an impression and was a regular healthy scratch. However, while in Chicago, he produced points at a decent pace (18, 40, and 14 pts in 45, 68, and 51 games respectively). He is coming off a 3 mill/season cap hit and, like Souray, will be looking to crack the top 6 on some team no matter where he goes.
An opinion; Personally, unless he signs for dirt cheap, I wouldn't waste the money. He seems to be nothing more than a 5/6th defenseman at best, despite that one year where he posted 40 points. Even in Minnesota, Barker was a healthy scratch far too many times for a 3rd overall pick, or has been demoted to the AHL far too often for my tastes. (he's never played more than 68 games, with only one of those coming from an offseason injury). That said, there is a chance, however small, that he recaptures that flame. Regardless, I'd rather give our own kids the chance.
Another former Devils, Commodore signed an 18.75 mill/5 year contract back in 2008, only to have the Jackets eat up three years of it (last year he played in the AHL, with the last two being bought out). From his stats, he never was a prolific point producer, with his career high being only 29 pts back in 06-07. In addition, he's had trouble avoiding injuries, and will only get older (he's 31 now). However, he does possess a decent first pass.
An opinion; Coming off a year where several players missed a decent amount of time with injuries, I'd rather not spend the money on someone who can't seem to avoid them. Plus, he doesn't have the offensive upside we need.
Of the three, Souray makes the most sense to me as long as the price and years stay low. He possesses the skills and experience we need and could serve as a potential transition on the blueline before players like Larsson make the jump. In addition, should Taormina make the team as well, he can act as a mentor to the aspiring offensive defenseman as well.