(Photo Credit: EA Sports NHL, via Twitter)
At the start of an NHL 19 Franchise Mode game, there aren’t many free agents who you can turn to in order to bolster your lines. There are, however, a few players who you can pick up to fill a bottom six or seventh defenseman role who could prove to be invaluable as the season progresses.
Antoine Vermette (OVR 78)
Age: 36Nationality: CanadianPosition: Two-Way CenterContract Demands: $0.975m, 1 year, 1 wayHeight: 185cmWeight: 89kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Stick Checking 87, Shot Blocking 85, Speed 85
Regardless of your aims for the season, there are few better players that you can pick up who offer the same value as Antoine Vermette does on the fourth line. The stalwart center has an 85 in faceoffs and poise as well as 85s across the board in skating. Not only will he win duels, but he’ll also fly over the rink to create opportunities. This is who you need on your fourth line, even if it’s just for one season.
Dennis Seidenberg (OVR 79)
Age: 37Nationality: GermanPosition: Defensive DefensemanContract Demands: $1.050m, 1 year, 1 wayHeight: 183cmWeight: 90kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Shot Blocking 87, Strength 87, Slap Shot Power 86
With an 85 or above in all of the key defensive attributes, Dennis Seidenberg makes for a decent seventh defenseman, if not a fair option on the bottom pairing. He’s physical and boasts enough defensive awareness to compensate for his slightly lacking speed.
Kari Lehtonen (OVR 82)
Age: 34Nationality: FinnishPosition: Hybrid GoaltenderContract Demands: $1.100m, 1 year, 1 wayHeight: 193cmWeight: 95kgHandedness: LeftBest Stats: Aggressiveness 89, Puck Playing Frequency 88, Vision 88
Stuck in tandem with the lackluster Antti Niemi in Dallas, Kari Lehtonen now presents himself as a top free agent who could certainly cover as a backup for a season or two (contract demands at $1.450 for two years). If you want to give a young goalie time to develop in the minors but don’t want their seat permanently taken in the NHL, Lehtonen is a great filler.
Tomas Jurco (OVR 77)
Age: 25Nationality: SlovakianPosition: Right Wing SniperContract Demands: $0.650m, 1 year, 2 wayHeight: 188cmWeight: 85kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Speed 87, Deking 87, Wrist Shot Power 87
Tomas Jurco was originally drafted 35th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2011, but he’s struggled to transition to the NHL so far. Still possessing plenty of potential, Jurco’s 87 speed, 86 in acceleration and agility, and decent shooting attributes make him a very user-friendly player to have on the ice. If given regular ice time, Jurco could prove to be a diamond in the rough.
Scott Hartnell (OVR 79)
Age: 36Nationality: CanadianPosition: Left Wing Power ForwardContract Demands: $1.225m, 1 year, 1 wayHeight: 188cmWeight: 97kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Aggressiveness 88, Body Checking 88, Strength 88
Coming up against a team that’s stuffed with talent? Need a brute to wear them down? Bring in Scott Hartnell. The veteran has famously dominated wings for many years, throwing his body into big checks, chasing down opponents, and even scoring goals. He’s a useful player to have scratched or even on the fourth line for some added bite.
Joel Ward (OVR 79)
Age: 37Nationality: CanadianPosition: Right Wing GrinderContract Demands: $1.050m, 1 year, 1 wayHeight:185cmWeight: 102kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Balance 90, Strength 90, Body Checking 89
Even more so than Scott Hartnell in many ways, Joel Ward is a great player to sit on your bottom line to tire opponents. While his puck skills are left a bit wanting, it’s not the puck that he goes for, boasting near 90s in aggressiveness, body checking, and strength. He also has strong defensive attributes and a powerful shot.