Senators Off-Season Decisions #3 – The UFA Forwards


We have looked at contract statuses of Erik Karlsson and what should become of Filip Kuba so far, and today we turn our attention to a group of UFA forwards that may or may not return to the Senators next season.

Jesse Winchester, Zenon Konopka and Rob Klinkhammer are all slated to go on the open market come July 1st.  There will, in all likelihood, not be room for all three on the Senators ‘ 2012-13 roster.  So which, if any, will be asked to return?

Let’s look at each one individually, and try to solve the dilemma.

Jesse Winchester

In his 4th NHL season, Winchester had shown himself to have developed into a legitimate checking forward in the NHL.  Unfortunately, injuries (including a concussion) limited the Centre to 32 games.  He played 4 postseason games before once again being forced from the lineup.  Winchester is a depth player at best who will give 5 goals and 20 points in a career season, while providing decent penalty killing.

Zenon Konopka

Konopka finished his first season with the Senators as one of the team’s best players in the playoffs.  He came exactly as advertised, providing toughness and stellar faceoff ability.  A frequent healthy scratch late in the season, he was professional about it and didn’t do anything to rock the boat.  He seems like the consummate team guy and is ready when called upon to go to battle.

Rob Klinkhammer

After being acquired partway through the season, Klinkhammer put up nearly. A point per game in Binghamton before he was called up to the big club.  He showed speed and forechecking ability in his 15 game stint, but only had 2 assists to show for his efforts.  Klinkhammer played on a two-way deal this season, and could be persuaded to sign another two way deal to help alleviate the strain on the big club while keeping a useful player in the system.

If it were me, I would like to see Konopka back in a 4th line role.  His $700K salary (of last year) might be a bit high, but he brings leadership and intangibles and has paid his dues to get where he is.

If Klinkhammer will take a two-way deal, it would keep a solid depth player in the fold.  Unfortunately, this could be the end of the line in Ottawa for Winchester.  With the expected influx of talent ready to make the jump, I think he will be the odd man out.

What do you think?