The Isles may not sign a forward in free agency, even a depth one like Condra. They’re almost guaranteed to sign a defenseman however – the Isles had 8 on the roster at all times last year (although some of that was not wanting to waive Matt Donovan) and with the loss of Donovan and Lubo, they’re down to 6, not counting Pulock or Mayfield. Given that the Isles would probably rather start less than 2 rookie defensemen, it’s pretty clear the Isles are planning on signing a depth D Man. Right now, the presumed D look as follows:
An extra depth D Man so the team doesn’t have to play Strait would be a godsend, but this team probably is only going for one on the cheap. So who’s available? Let’s look at 2 guys to start:
Mark Barberio was not extended a qualifying offer by Tampa Bay today, cutting him loose from the organization. He’s only 25 and actually would have a year of restricted free agency left if signed, which would be a bonus for signing him. He’s also 6’1, so he’s not a super small guy (although he’s not big either).
More importantly, he’s a pretty damn solid D Man, Despite playing for a strong possession team alongside a bunch of other super strong D men, Barberio had a positive relative corsi the last two years. In other words, the team did better with him on the ice than off in terms of possession. He also didn’t have that favorable minutes – this isn’t a guy who was sheltered.
So in short, we have a guy who drives possession despite not getting sheltered. That’s a pretty great depth D Man and what you want from a guy who’d have to fill in for injury.
Matt Hunwick was on the Rangers last year, so Isles fans may be familiar with him. Like Barberio, Hunwick was a plus relative corsi guy, so the Rangers (and the Avs before them) were better with him on the ice than without. Hunwick was however a little more sheltered than Barberio, but not significantly.
In short, the two players are very similar. The difference is Hunwick is 30, you’re getting only 1 year of him, will probably want a bigger contract, and is also only 5’11”. The performance has been very similar, but Barberio is at peak age, while Hunwick is past it and likely to decline. A fine signing if possible, but not as good as Barberio.due to the age difference.