Okay: I expected signings to take a little longer than 12 hours, but apparently not! So I guess the defense just takes a quick once over of some of the folks who were available:
Sheldon Souray - Not a great defenseman, but after a season of 26 goals, who cares? Tough guy, too.
Kimmo Timonen - Runs the power play, reasonably durable, has gotten better every year and pulled in 55 points last season.
Brian Rafalski - One of the smartest players in the game. Not a great shot, but 47 assists.
Scott Hannan - A stopper. Don't expect points, but he's one of the few D-men that can shut down opponents without fouling them: always in the right position.
Brad Stuart - Good skater who tends to make the safe play. Heavy shot, but hasn't quite found his range yet.
Tom Poti - Good size, good shot, will get anywhere from 25-45 points. A little erratic, and can get confused in his own end.
Mathieu Schneider - Still putting up numbers (52 points last year), not the most reliable guy defensively. At 38, he's got to be winding down soon, right? Right?
Roman Hamrlik - The physical skills are all there, but not the smartest player on the ice. Has some injury issues.
Tom Preissing - Smart player who controls the puck well. He can put up points, and is more an offensive player than defensive one.
Teppo Numminen - Makes a great first pass, has sound positioning, marvelously consistent. Yeah, he's 38, but if Schneider's here, so's Numminen.
Those are pretty much the best of what's available. But for the tighter budgets, or for some depth, there are others worth looking at:
Craig Rivet - Willing. Not first-pair good, but this guy will do anything for his team.
Brent Sopel - Hammer of a shot and not afraid to use it, but no idea where it'll go. Another player who will do anything asked of him. Can fill in anywhere short-term.
Cory Sarich - Plays the body extremely well. Getting hit by this guy is like having an oak door slammed in your face.
Nolan Pratt - A defenseman in every sense: there's no offense available here. Shut-down guy.
Brad Lukowich - Steady, smart player; okay shot; occasionally injured. One of those utility players that teams like to trade for.
Aaron Miller - You get him if you need a leader, not a scorer. Great attitude, average player.
Jamie Heward - Another wily veteran, but this one has a good shot, too. Experienced.
Danny Markov - Huge hitter, can put up points, and is gleefully aggressive. On the down side, his play frequently leaves him injured.
Jon Klemm - Plays defense, and plays it hard. Don't expect points, or more than 16 minutes a game.
Ossi Vaananen - Loves to take the body, but gets hurt because of it. The defensive version of Markov.
David Tanabe - Often lightly injured, if he could play just a little more consistently he's a potentially great player (and only 26).
Andy Sutton - Anyone that can play five seasons with Atlanta and still be +11 has some good defensive play going on. Has only managed to play one full season, though.
Greg DeVries - Wily veteran, durable, shut-down guy.
Then there's the High Risk/High Reward types:
Sandis Ozolinsh - History of knee trouble, will play 30 minutes a game if you let him. Fantastic offense, not much D. Oh, he argues with management, too. Good luck!
Sean Hill - Getting up in years (37), and sometimes tries to do too much. At his best when he keeps his game simple, but will sometimes imagine he's Paul Coffey. He's not.
Vitaly Vishnevski - Big, BIG hitter and locks a lot of shots. He's down here because he wears down as the year progresses and has frequent brain cramps in his own end. Exciting player, this, but only occasionally for the right reasons.
Janne Niinimaa - Lots of injury trouble last year, but he's always had "huge potential". Alas, he thinks he's better than he is, and has never quite lived up to his star billing. Might get there yet - he's only 32, after all.
Alexei Semenov - Massive (6'6", 235lbs) but uninterested. Only 26, and if you think you can motivate him, you'll have gold. You'll need some dynamite, though.
Daniel Tjarqvist - Makes the safe play out of his zone, but fragile. You may have him for 75 games, you may have him for 40.
Jiri Fischer - Immense talent, no experience. Has a heart ailment, and may retire after being out of hockey for a year and a half. If he decides to play, and you're willing to let him, he's a top four player.
Darryl Sydor - A fading point-producer. Make sure you don't overspend on him, or over use him, as he tends to get bumped off the puck.
Patrice Brisbois - Can produce points, but is nicknamed "Breeze-by" for a reason. Often injured, and massively overpriced ($3 million last season).
Bryan Berard - Huge, huge potential for offense, but now has back injuries to go with blindness in one eye. The eye hasn't been a problem offensively...
Ric Jackman - NHL-level offensive abilities, but every team that has him seems willing to get rid of him, too. Needs to mature, in every sense.
Then there's the goalies. Not many around this year, as the big bumper crop from a few years ago is the same few who are available now - just older or retired. Most of those on this list have been tried as starters at one point or another, and will try getting back there, but are realistically going to be signed as second stringers. Still, a couple stand out:
Curtis Sanford - Stepped in as a lone bright spot for St. Louis two seasons back; then couldn't quite stand up to being a #1. Brilliant attitude for a backup, though.
Jean-Sebastien Aubin - Very streaky. Tends to dwell on the recent past, good or bad.
Jocelyn Thibault - Often brilliant: just as often injured. May be best in a tandem (40-50 games).
Curtis Joseph - Still extremely agile and quick, but starting to lose his mental toughness. Starting to pout if his play isn't going well.
Robert Esche - Often very good, sometimes very bad. Far too inconsistent for a starter, and doesn't seem to like that pressure anyways. Perhaps best as a tandem or frequent backup (30-40 games).
Kevin Weekes - Plays a rock-solid, athletic tight-in game, but loses the occasional long shot. Mentally tough.
Mike Dunham - Big, confident, plays the puck well, and covers his angles. Not as good with his legs, and has injury trouble.
Scott Clemmensen - Backed up Richard Brodeur, so played 25 NHL games in 5 seasons. Who knows what he's like? He's big, at least: 6'3" 205lbs.
David Aebischer - A younger Joseph: fast, relies on reflexes, unflappable. Wants to start, and nothing else will do. May return to Switzerland if less is offered.
Sean Burke - Huge frame, great in the room. Fine teammate.
Mathieu Garon - The best goalie available as a free agent. Fantastic glove have, can shake off a bad game.
Ed Belfour - Still has great legs, very acrobatic. Can get thrown off his game with a bump or two; is a serious problem child off ice; hates being challenged by his backup in any way.
Jussi Markkanen - Often very good, but runs hot and cold: too inconsistent to be a starter so far.
Jamie McLennan - Great attitude for a rarely-used backup. Can play once every 15 games without complaint. Moves side-to-side very well.
Ty Conklin - Acceptable NHL totals, works hard and has the desire to stay at the NHL level.
And finally, I'm dying for someone to sign this guy for an AHL post:
Yutaka Fukufuji - The talent to be a backup is there, but the training isn't. Yet. Incredibly hard worker. Sure, he got jumped on when he was dropped into the NHL, but the guy only had 7 games at the AHL before that! His ECHL and AHL numbers are solid enough for someone to give him a shot.
So, when's training camp?