They may not add goals to the scoring column, but enforcers have always been considered an important aspect of any professional hockey club.
Last season, the New Jersey Devils were fortunate enough to have two. Cam Janssen and Eric Boulton carried the load for the organization with 190 penalty minutes while only adding one total point in a combined 99 games.
Boulton signed a one-year deal this offseason with the New York Islanders, but the Devils were able to re-sign Janssen to a new contract. To replace Boulton, New Jersey signed former Florida Panthers enforcer Krys Barch to a one-year deal.
While they have not seen any action on the ice, both Barch and Janssen have made headlines for the wrong reasons during the lockout. Janssen was criticized for homophobic and sexist comments made on a radio show in St. Louis (h/t AOL Sporting News), while Barch went on a drunken Twitter rant during the first few months of the work stoppage (h/t Pro Hockey Talk).
Both have apologized for their actions and are ready to get back to hockey, but it may be some time before the NHL and NHLPA reach an agreement. When the league returns, it will be interesting to see which enforcer helps the Devils the most.
Last season Barch had two goals and three assists with Florida and added 91 penalty minutes. While he was far off from his career-high 133 penalty minutes in 2008-2009, he still had a productive season for an enforcer.
Barch and Janssen will both see playing time this season, but they will probably have to split ice time with the emergence of the team's fourth line. The Devils rarely played both Boulton and Janssen at the same time last year, and it will likely stay this way with Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier in the lineup.
If the Devils had to choose one enforcer, Krys Barch would be the way to go. Barch not only has the bigger frame at 6'1'', 237 pounds, but he also as the better scoring ability with 31 career points.
Barch's extra 15 pounds would give him advantages in fights, especially against the enforcers of rivals like Philadelphia and New York. Janssen has been able to hold his own throughout his career, but Barch is simply the bigger guy for the job.
If the Devils can get a few extra points from Barch on the fourth line, the team would be more well-rounded than they were last season. It is likely that both enforcers will see the ice, but Barch would be the best option for the 2012-2013 season.
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