With puck possession so important in today’s game, puck moving defensemen are vital to jumpstarting the offense. The term “puck moving defensemen” is thrown out very loosely, but not many people seem to know its definition or what skills constitute being considered a puck moving defenseman.
The definition is actually right in the name: a defensemen that can effectively move the puck from the defensive zone to the offensive zone. A puck moving defenseman is sound in the defensive zone and helps convert breakouts to offensive zone possession before joining the offensive rush. This defensemen must have high hockey IQ, great vision of the ice, and strong decision making skills where they can adapt to the opposition’s forecheck.
Because these defensemen play an large role for their team, they are highly sought upon on the free agent market. While it is much more expensive to sign a puck moving defensemen rather than drafting and developing one, the team’s increased offensive output is worth the price tag over a stay at home defenseman. I’ll take a look at the top puck moving defensemen that are available this summer on the free agent market and could have an impact to the team at the start of the season.
Dan Bylsma was set to become the next head coach of the Buffalo Sabres earlier this week, but there was a roadblock preventing the finalization of the deal. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who fired Bylsma in June of 2014, were seeking compensation in the form of a draft pick for hiring him. The Penguins fired him, but essentially just “removed him from his duties” as he was kept him on the team’s payroll. Since he is technically still under contract, the Penguins can seek compensation under a new rule.
If you’re looking in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for clarification on this rule, you won’t find it anywhere. In this new rule that was approved by the Board of Governors last summer and put into effect in March of this year, teams can now seek compensation from other team’s hiring their fired executives. The rule was sent out via a memo to all 30 NHL teams and the specifics have found their way online through different league insiders.
Coming off Wednesday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals where the Washington Capitals were eliminated after holding a three to one series lead against the New York Rangers, Washington has an important decision to make about defenseman Mike Green. In Game 7, Green played almost 19 minutes of even strength ice time, posting a negative Corsi rating (48.6% CF% and only 1 individual shot attempt) but a positive scoring change rating (60% SC% with 1 individual scoring chance). Green had two penalties within a two minute thirty-nine second span in the second period. The second penalty ended up being very costly for Washington as Kevin Hayes scored to tie up the game for New York.