Last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost defenceman Ron Hainsey to the Toronto Maple Leafs during free agency.
Due to losing one of our precious, Stanley Cup winning defencemen, the Pittsburgh Penguins replaced Hainsey by signing Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Matt Hunwick to a three-year contract.
Now Matt Hunwick wasn’t all that great in Toronto. He was utilized by coach Mike Babcock a lot, but even the Leafs had struggled with him floating as their sixth defenceman.
During his first season with the Penguins, the Matt Hunwick experiment proved to be a loss rather than a victory. He was unstable for most of the season and during the playoffs, Chad Ruhwedel did an even better job being a stable sixth defenceman (however it seems like his best fit is as a seventh defenceman).
The point of the fact is that the Penguins need to figure out a way to upgrade their defensive core and particularly that sixth defenceman position. Free agency is a great place to find contenders, so today, let’s take a look at just a few of the potential defenceman the Penguins can sign to replace Hunwick.
We could steal another defenceman from the Toronto Maple Leafs this year. Roman Polak is a solid third pairing dman who has a lot of experience in the NHL. Last season he helped hold down the Leafs third pairing quite effectively, and they may be a team looking to replace a few players anyways.
We all know how useful Ian Cole can be. He won two Cups with us and he can certainly hold down the blue-line quite effectively. Last season, when the Penguins lost Kris Letang to injury, he really stepped up to share the load with Justin Schultz to carry our defensive core right to a Cup. If we have the money, we can go for him which may even offer a significant upgrade to our team.
At just 27 years of age, John Moore of the New Jersey Devils may be someone we want to look into. With 7 goals and 11 assists for 18 points last season, he has made some great contributions to a playoff team. His cap hit isn’t too much and may be just enough to give him a chance on our team.