Diamond in the Rough Free Agents – the Fringe Defensemen

Bobby Sanguinetti – WikiCommons

The Canucks need defensemen – or at least a defenseman – this summer. You could say the same thing about all 29 other NHL clubs, too. You can never have enough good defensemen, and we continue to see teams the most depth and the least injuries emerge as Stanley Cup winners year after year.

Assuming Keith Ballard is bought out (or somehow removed from the roster), Vancouver currently has Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, and Alex Edler under contract. Hopefully John Tortorella quickly realizes that Bieksa and Edler shouldn’t play together (but that is a thought for another day). Chris Tanev is an RFA, and I’d expect him to be signed in short order.

Frank Corrado had an impressive debut last season, but the team won’t be promising him anything this summer. If he comes in to camp and outperforms the competition, a top six spot will be his. We have profiled the internal and external options to fill the depth defenseman void already, so I instead of rehashing any more of that post, let’s look at four AHL defensemen who could make the jump to the NHL (much like Aaron Rome did when Vancouver signed him a few years ago).

Matthew Corrente

The scrappy two-way defenseman has player in 34 career NHL games (no goals, six assists). Corrente turned 25 this past March, and he was originally a 1st round pick of the Devils out of the OHL. His highest goal total at any level is six (OHL and AHL). He isn’t an offensive defenseman, but he is a physical one. In his first full AHL season, Corrente had 161 PIM in 67 games.

He’s a righty shot, and the Canucks could probably bring him in on a two-way deal. The Devils haven’t offered him a contract yet, but they plan to talk to his agent, according to Lou Lamoriello. His development has been derailed by injuries every season, and signing him comes with that risk tag attached.

Bobby Sanguinetti

Sanguinetti is another former 1st round selection that never lived up to the hype. He did appear in 37 games in Carolina last season, scoring twice and adding four assists (his only NHL points). Sanguinetti was drafted 21st overall by the Rangers back in 2006 after a 14-goal and 65-point season with the Owen Sound attack. However, he has failed to turn AHL success into NHL success. He is only 25 years old, and is only one year removed from a 50-point AHL campaign.

Sanguinetti also shoots right, and the Hurricanes may move on as his skill set is a bit redundant (although they did trade away Jamie McBain, and Joe Corvo isn’t coming back). He’s more of an offensive guy, but he can skate the puck up the ice and he does have some NHL experience under his belt. He’s likely looking for the security of a one-way deal though.

Ty Wishart

The third former 1st round selection on this list, the former WHL standout was picked 16th overall in 2006 by San Jose. Wishart has all of the tools to be a star defenseman – he’s 6-4, 225 pounds, and a mobile skater. However, he has been leapfrogged on the Islanders depth chart by many of his contemporaries (hence the UFA status). In 62 AHL games in 2012-13, he scored seven goals and finished with 24 points in 62 games.

Wishart has one goal and six points in 26 career NHL games. He scored over 10 goals twice in the WHL, and has scored nine in an AHL season, too. He is the most intriguing option on this list, and not just because of where he was drafted or where he grew up (Comox, BC). He performed well in limited duty for the Islanders back in 2010-11, but he has only seen one NHL game since then.

Matt Taormina

Taormina wasn’t a high draft pick – in fact, he wasn’t drafted at all. The former Texarkana Bandit is a smallish offensive defenseman who has spent his NHL career with the Devils and Lightning. In his rookie season in the AHL, he had 10 goals and 50 points in 75 games for Lowell (2009-10). Clearly there is some offensive upside here. But why hasn’t he been able to crack an NHL roster?

Taormina had 24 points in 55 games this past season with Syracuse, and he added another 12 in 18 postseason contests. However, he saw only two games of NHL action with the Lightning. Taormina would be a great two-way signing for the organization. He can run a power play and is a proficient scorer at the AHL level, and he would be a solid fill-in option of there are any injuries on Vancouver’s back end. He may yet earn a full-time gig in the NHL, however he needs an opportunity and the right defensive partner to do so.

Diamond in the Rough Free Agents – the Fringe Forwards

  • pheenster

    Is the priority now a left handed defenceman? With Corrado and Garrison, we now have 4 guys who can play RS, only three on the left – and if we go with a Hamhuis-Bieksa, Edler-Garrison top 4 we need a lefty for the 3rd pairing.

  • pheenster

    I’m surprised Tanev has yet to be signed considering free agency opens up on Friday.

    Considering the Canucks cap fix maybe a team tosses him a $3 mil offer.

  • pheenster

    What about Kris Russell? Just put on waivers by the Blues. I realize that he’s a left shot defense man. He’s small and he doesn’t put up many points (not a great combination) but he’s good with the first pass or skating the puck out.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing these D-pairings while giving Corrado an extra year to learn the pro game in the minors:




    For ice-time distribution I would give the top pairing around 23-24 minutes give or take. And the other two pairings would equally (at even strength) split the remaining minutes.