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2010 NHL Free Agency: Devils lock up shot blocker Anton Volchenkov for six years

The New Jersey Devils lost key defenseman Paul Martin today, but they’re trying to fill the void by committee with the additions of Henrik Tallinder and former Ottawa Senators defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

Volchenkov’s agent Jay Grossman just Tweeted that the Devils are on the verge of signing the Russian shutdown D for a six year deal. Darren Dreger reports that the deal is worth $4.25 million per year, so that means the grand total is $25.5 million.

Despite having the reputation for being a solid defensive team, it seems like New Jersey struggles in the matchup-heavy playoffs since the team lacks the kind of players who can truly lock it down in their own end. Along with being gritty and defensive minded, Volchenkov is known for being one of the league’s most frequent shot blockers. He should help the team in those tough summer months.

The problem is that they’re paying pretty big money for a guy who regularly puts himself in harm’s way ... and doesn’t do much to help his team put the puck in the opposing team’s net. His career high is 19 points, so Volchenkov is all about defense.

That’s fine, but it might be difficult for him to live up to his deal unless he really locks down the opposition’s top players. It’s a risky contract in many ways, but Volchenkov is the type of player sports writers like to call a “warrior” and should still be in his prime for most of the deal. (He’s only 28.)

So, overall, it’s a solid deal but - just like almost every free agent situation - it comes with some serious risks. How do you feel about the move? Tell us in the comments.