Top 3 Cap-Friendly Free Agent Defensemen Available This Summer

NHL free agency is now just three weeks away, and while teams are doing their checks and balances with their cap room, trying to figure out what big names they could potentially add, there are always some bargains that will available on the market. Recently, we looked at 3 likely reasonably-priced UFA forwards.

Here, we take a look at three "cap-friendly" (not to be confused with the recently-purchased extremely popular website) free agent d-men that can be had for somewhere in the range of $3 million AAV.

Jalen Chatfield

The 28-year-old earned himself a regular job on the Carolina Hurricanes blueline over the past two seasons, playing on a measly $763,000 cap hit. He played over 15 minutes per game with the Canes this year, recording a plus/minus rating of +15 along with 22 points. He upped his contributions in the playoffs, skating over 20 minutes a night in his 11 games played. He's projected to get somewhere in and around the $3M range on a new deal this summer, and if the Hurricanes let him get to free agency, he will be in demand.

Ian Cole

Cole had a big role on the Vancouver Canucks blueline this season, as the veteran played 18:41 a night and registered a plus/minus rating of +10 while blocking 166 shots. Recent reports indicate that the Canucks & Cole were unable to find common ground in contract talks and he'll be heading to the open market. He should be able to be had for in or around the $3M AAV mark.

Erik Gustafsson

The New York Rangers got themselves one of the best bargain-basement signings of the season last summer when they inked the then-31-year-old veteran blueliner Gustafsson  to a one-year, one-year, $825,000 contract. All he did was go out and become a solid part of the Rangers d-corps, playing 17:24 a night, seeing some time on the power play, and collecting 31 points in 76 games with a rating of +3. 

He might not be able to be had, however, for under $3M. While AFP Analytics appraised Gustafsson at a $3.85M cap hit, Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff blew well past that projection with a suggested $5M cap hit on a short-term deal. Wow.

As Elliotte Friedman also noted this weekend, reasonably-priced d-men will be in big demand on the free agent market and are expected to do very well. 

Photo: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports