According to the Ottawa Sun, the Ottawa Senators have signed former Ottawa 67’s captain Zenon Konopka to a Free Agent contract (reported to be 1 year, $700,000).
Konopka led the NHL with 307 penalty minutes last season, and is a prototypical 4th line centre. He is good defensively, good on faceoffs and is a great checker. In addition, he is definitely not afraid to drop the gloves. At 6′, 210 lbs, Konopka isn’t usually the biggest dog in the fight, but he is always game. He has 58 fights on record in the last 2 seasons. For someone who is as physical as he is, he has been remarkably durable, missing only 8 games in the last 2 years, and playing all 82 games last season.
Konopka’s route from the 67’s (where he was a part of the 1999 Memorial Cup champions) to the NHL was a long and winding road. He was undrafted in the NHL and played for 6 ECHL and AHL teams over 4 seasons before making his NHL debut with the Ducks. So he will not take anything for granted, and his work ethic will rub off on other players
He is a character player who has played 195 NHL games for the Ducks, Blue Jackets, Lightning and Islanders, amassing totals of 8 goals and 14 assists to go with 684 penalty minutes over parts of 6 seasons. Don’t expect him to put up many points, but as a 4th line centre you don’t expect that anyway.
This signing makes the composition of the bottom half of the forward ranks very interesting. It was already packed with perhaps an overly skilled player being shuffled down, but it now appears that someone unexpected will be starting the season in Binghamton.
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