We can argue all we want about potentially signing Brad Richards, or potentially trading for this power-forward, or that power play quarterback, but at the end of the day if none of the above happens this summer, most of us won’t lose any sleep over it (thanks to Gordie Clark). However, following the tragic passing of Derek Boogaard, there is one glaring need for this roster that must be addressed this summer and that is the honorable role of enforcer.
Look, I love Brandon Prust. His knack for standing up for teammates is not only admirable, but it is invaluable. To expect him to go it alone again would be bad for his health, and we need a healthy Prust for more reasons than I can address.
So this summer, the signing or trading for an enforcer is not only an idea for the offseason, it is the idea of the offseason.
The Likely Candidate: Sadly,as we all know, other than Prust, this role is empty.
The Other Possibilities: See above…
The Dark Horse: If I must pick one it’s Dylan McIlrath, but let’s face it, the Rangers are looking for him to be Jeff Beukeboom, not Brad Staubitz. The “experts” say he’s 2 years away, but if he proves the “experts” wrong, we would want him learning how to play defense, not sitting in the penalty box.
The Likely Candidate: Zenon Konopka (6’0 210 lbs), the former Islander needs no introduction. He’s coming off a 1 year $600K contract. He’s had 58 fights in the past 2 seasons, I’d sign him in a heartbeat.
Other Possibilities: Darcy Hordichuk (most recently with FLA) isn’t the most disciplined of players and he has bounced around a lot of NHL organizations, but here’s another guy who commands respect when he’s out on the ice. At 6’1 210lbs, Darcy isn’t huge, but he gets the job done by hitting everything in his path and he can scrap with the best of them. Darcy trained with UFC legend Chuck Liddel, and has the KOs to prove it. Hordichuk is coming off a 3 year deal @ $775K per. He’s good for about 10-15 fights per season.
The Dark Horse: Cam Janssen of the St. Louis Blues is no heavy weight (5’11 200 lbs), but this dude can scrap. Despite his size, Janssen is not afraid to step up to the big boys. The majority of his battles are against guys over the 6’3 220 pound mark. He’s opened up a can of whoop a$$ on Colton Orr, Brian McGrattan, Matt Carkner, Jared Boll, Jodey Shelley, and Nick Boyton, to name a few. Janssen is coming off a 1 year $6ooK contract.
The Likely Candidate: To be honest, I don’t really see us trading for an enforcer, it’s not really Sather’s MO.
The Other Possibilities: Paul Bissonnette (PHX) would be fun, just because he is the best tweeter in professional sports.
The Dark Horse: David Clarkson…just kidding
The Final Word:
I have a hard time believing that Glen won’t at least try to find someone to fill the enforcer role, especially with the sandpaper mentality that this team has adopted under Tortorella’s tutelage. Ultimately it comes down to whether or not Glen still believes in his own words last off-season about the idea of protecting teammates and/or Lundqvist. If he still thinks this team needs a protector, and wants Prust focusing on playing hockey, my vote would be for Konopka.