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Zenon Konopka, a lower-line energy player with high penalty-minute totals and effective faceoff abilities, will be going to Minnesota. Adding Konopka to a team with Matt Kassian gives Minnesota one of the league’s toughest fighter combinations.
Konopka had a very interesting comment regarding his role, saying (via Chris Nichols), “If [Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley] want to sit down at center ice and read the paper, they should be able to do that without anyone touching them.”
Konopka is leaving Ottawa with a lack of toughness, which became exponentially greater when heavyweight Matt Carkner signed with the New York Islanders.
The Colorado Avalanche’s Twitter feed actually announced that their team signed Carkner before this, but he had not agreed to a contract, as noted by Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy.
Carkner provides the presence of a heavyweight enforcer the team had lacked since Trevor Gillies spent last season in the AHL. Gillies signed a contract to play for the KHL’s Vityaz Chekov.
Gillies said on his Facebook account that he knew the Islanders were interested in Carkner, which contributed to his decision to leave North America.
Another Northeast Division team that lost toughness was the Montreal Canadiens, when Brad Staubitz signed with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Canadiens immediately replaced that toughness by signing Brandon Prust, who was previously with the Rangers.
The Rangers were quick to fill in Prust’s role by signing Arron Asham of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Micheal Haley of the Islanders. Asham has already played for the other four Atlantic Division teams: Islanders, Devils, Flyers and Penguins.
Pittsburgh signed Tanner Glass, replacing the toughness lost in the Asham signing.
George Parros announced that he would be playing with Florida, so Anaheim loses their heavyweight after signing the smaller Staubitz.
Brian McGrattan, the best fighter in the NHL, re-signed with the Predators. Or as he put it, he is “back in smashville!”
John Scott, another mammoth fighter, signed with the Buffalo Sabres, according to a team release. Buffalo had a clear need for an enforcer after Milan Lucic and Jordin Tootoo proved someone could run over Ryan Miller without repercussions.
Tootoo signed with the Red Wings. He could lead the team in fights next season. He had five in 2011-12; Detroit totaled 15.
Jason Sapunka covers the NHL and is available on Twitter for day-to-day updates, analysis and commentary.