NHL.com takes a closer look at the top unrestricted free agent defensemen expected to be available when the market opens on Oct. 9 (listed in alphabetical order):
[RELATED: Top free agent forwards: Hall on the market]
Tyson Barrie, Toronto Maple Leafs
Barrie, acquired in a trade from the Colorado Avalanche on July 1, 2019, scored 39 points (five goals, 34 assists) in 70 games and saw his role on the power play decline (12 power-play points after scoring 25 last season). The five goals were his fewest in a full NHL season, but the 29-year-old was consistent offensively prior to the trade. Barrie scored double-digit goals in five of the previous six seasons before 2019-20. He has scored 346 points (80 goals, 266 assists) in 554 regular-season NHL games and 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 26 postseason games.
Possible landing spots: Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets
The 35-year-old became an unrestricted free agent when he and the Jets mutually agreed to terminate his contract April 17, and he likely will draw interest if he decides to continue playing in the NHL. Byfuglien is a scorer (five seasons with at least 50 points) who is also a big, physical presence (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) that every team craves. A Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, he has scored 525 points (177 goals, 348 assists) with 1,094 penalty minutes in 869 regular-season NHL games and 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists) in 66 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Possible landing spots: Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers
Brenden Dillon, Washington Capitals
Dillon, who will turn 30 on Nov. 13, was traded to the Capitals from the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 18 and performed well even though he did not score a point in 10 games. He scored 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 59 games with the Sharks before the trade. He isn’t known for his scoring but can be a team’s shut-down, stay-at-home defenseman. He had 194 hits and 74 blocked shots this season, averaging 19:27 of ice time per game. In 598 regular-season games with the Capitals, Sharks and Dallas Stars, Dillon has scored 114 points (22 goals, 92 assists). He has 10 assists in 70 NHL playoff games.
Possible landing spots: Capitals, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks
Torey Krug, Boston Bruins
The 29-year-old has scored at least 40 points in six of his seven full NHL seasons and had 49 points (nine goals, 40 assists) in 61 games this season. Krug scored 28 power-play points and led Boston with 3:53 of power-play ice time per game. He has scored 337 points (67 goals, 270 assists) in 523 regular-season NHL games, with almost half of them (160) coming on the power play. Krug has scored 52 points (11 goals, 41 assists) in 75 postseason games and is one of the few top-pair defensemen on the market.
Possible landing spots: Bruins, Oilers, Flames, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
The captain of the Blues the past four seasons, Pietrangelo has been one of the most consistent defensemen in the League since 2016-17. He scored an NHL career-high 16 goals this season, when he had 52 points in 70 games, and has scored at least 13 goals in each of the past four seasons. The 30-year-old has scored 450 points (109 goals, 341 assists) in 758 regular-season NHL games and 51 points (eight goals, 43 assists) in 92 postseason games. Pietrangelo scored 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 26 playoff games to help the Blues win the Stanley Cup in 2019.
Possible landing spots: Blues, Maple Leafs, Oilers, Panthers, Sabres, New Jersey Devils
Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh Penguins
Schultz has been limited to 75 games the past two seasons because of injuries and scored 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 46 games this season. He has scored 54 points in his past three seasons after scoring 51 points (12 goals, 39 assists) in 78 games with the Penguins in 2016-17 to help them win the Stanley Cup. When healthy, he can quarterback the power play; 89 of his 214 NHL points have come with the man-advantage. The 30-year-old is a two-time Cup winner (also 2015-16).
Possible landing spots: Blackhawks, Oilers, New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings
Kevin Shattenkirk, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning took a chance signing Shattenkirk to a one-year contract this season after his contract was bought out by the Rangers, and it paid off. He scored 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) and was plus-22 in 70 regular-season games before scoring 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 25 games in the postseason. After two difficult seasons with the Rangers, the 31-year-old proved he still has something left in the tank. Shattenkirk has scored 383 points (83 goals, 300 assists) in 679 regular-season games with the Lightning, Rangers, Capitals, Blues and Avalanche, and 47 points (eight goals, 39 assists) in 85 NHL postseason games.
Possible landing spots: Lightning, Panthers, Penguins, Devils, Sabres, Sharks
Christopher Tanev, Vancouver Canucks
The 30-year-old tied his NHL career high with 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 69 games this season and scored seven (one goal, six assists) in 17 postseason games. He’s a stay-at-home defenseman who is also capable of chipping in offensively and providing leadership. Tanev has scored 118 points (22 goals, 96 assists) in 514 regular-season NHL games and 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in 33 postseason games.
Possible landing spots: Canucks, Penguins, Maple Leafs, Flames, Panthers
Sami Vatanen, Carolina Hurricanes
Although an injury prevented Vatanen from playing in the regular season after being acquired in a trade from the Devils on Feb. 24, he returned for the postseason and had three assists (two on the power play) in seven games. He scored 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 47 games with the Devils, playing in all situations. The 29-year-old has scored 194 points (45 goals, 149 assists) in 434 regular-season games with the Devils and Ducks, and 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 51 NHL postseason games.
Possible landing spots: Hurricanes, Devils, Sabres, Flames, Coyotes, Bruins, Oilers