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Perhaps The Rangers Greatest Need Of All, An Enforcer

June 15, 2011, by

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.

Free Agency

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.

Categories : Analysis, Offseason


  1. joey says:

    agreed, with the style the rangers play and the way they fashion themselves as a team, having an enforcer is truly a need. There was simply too much of a burden on prust last year. Ideally, we can find one that can play, is good in the locker room, high charachter, and cheap. I had heard rumors the Flyers may buy out Shelley?

  2. Brian SCS says:

    What about Carcillo? I’ve heard that the Flies won’t re-up him.

    • Brian SCS says:

      Only kidding about Carcillo, I wouldn’t want that toothless dirtbag anywhere near this team. I think that Konopka would be great but he’s likely to draw some interest around the league making him more expensive than he’s really worth. What about someone cheap and young like a Cody McCormick.

      • The Suit says:

        I’m glad your kidding on Carcillo. I almost puked all over my Armani.

        I won’t BS you, I’m not familiar with McCormick, what’s his deal?

        • Brian SCS says:

          I’m far from an expert on the guy but I would say he’s a middleweight with possibly some hockey upside. He played in 81 games last year (first thing I look for in these guys) and put up 8g, 12ast, with a +2 rating as 4th line center mostly. His 142 PIM looks to be around 40th or so in the league but his 16 fights rank 9th. Hockeyfights had him winning about 60% of his bouts. Actually the more I look at this guy his stats impress me. I don’t know about his skating or long term potential but he seems like a guy that will be able to play an energy role and take some of the heat off Prusty.

          • The Suit says:

            I’ll look him up. I like where your head is at!

          • Brian SCS says:

            As a side note my personal preference would be to get more players like Prust who can play hockey as well as drop the gloves on occasion. God bless the Boogeyman but I have doubts as to the real value of a true “enforcer” in today’s NHL. Guys like Prust and Avery are way more valuable IMO.

            • Dave says:

              That’s why I’m an advocate of Konopka…guy is reliable defensively and is great on face offs.

  3. Blueshirt in Paris says:

    Though I wont deny that I like a good fight and a tough enforcer, with that stupid instigator rule and the speed of the game, most are just not needed anymore.

    though I do agree with Konokopa. He can play and is GREAT on faceoffs which we still need to address.

  4. Matt J says:

    Enforcer? I get a kick seeing gaborik “drop” the gloves. also, we shouldnt get an
    Enforcer because our team is very scoring challenged as is. Let mcilrath grow up and let prust duke it out till then. We got out of a bad contract as sad as it is with boogaard.

  5. RangerSmurf says:

    62 fights, 6th in the league were the Rangers.

    Prust had 18. That’s 44 fights (70%!) that were not Prust related. We have enough of this on the team. The need is scoring, not sideshow acts that do nothing.

    Konopka’s fine, since he’s a superb faceoff guy and can actually be trusted enough that he even gets to kill penalties. The rest of the list is a bunch of roster/cap wastes who get 5 minutes at most a night and otherwise compromise your depth.

    Sorry to be blunt, but I really tire of spending money and ice time on guys like this year after year.

    • joey says:

      But maybe the 62 fights highlight the style that they play. They as a team take pride in standing up for one another. I do agree I would love if the enforcer could do something else as well, but seeing the fallout from the whole boogard tragedy, with the horrendous concussion, and the stories about the challenges of going out on a nightly basis always prepared to fight, not to mention the damages it does to them in the short and long term, I would much prefer if Prust could go from 18 fights to something like 7 or 8, potentially topping out at 10. Another enforcer would remove some of the burden.

      If he comes cheap, can somewhat hold his own, and is a good character guy an enforcer may be a worthy investment.

      • The Suit says:

        Couldn’t agree with you more joey.

        George, my list is what’s out there, not what I think we should throw money at.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        There’s nothing that says we have to maintain the 62 fights a year pace. (Which according to hockeyfights was our highest total in the 6 seasons it has databased)

        I’d love to see Prust reduce his fights also, but I want it because Prust is valuable outside of the penalty box.

        Suit – my bad, since your article was that is a “must have” role, I figured short of Konopka, those are the people you endorse as targets.

        • The Suit says:

          No worries. It was the same format as the conundrum posts, but I didn’t want to title this “the enforcer conundrum,” that would have been a bit insensitive…

  6. Zen says:

    If you can sign a sensible, cheap scrapper that can actually play (like Prust)… then I am okay with that, but in reality, the enforcer is a dying breed in today’s NHL. Our team as it presently stands can take care of itself. Saying that finding an enforcer MUST be addressed seems silly to me. What MUST be addressed is scoring.

    • The Suit says:

      I don’t disagree, but many of our “needs” can hopefully be addressed by dipping into the farm. Where’s Jess when I need him?

  7. Mikeyyyy says:

    We really need a guy thatcan lay people out with dirty hits.

    I mean with the instigator rule and the NHL trying to get rid of fighting and the inability of the refs o control the players during games we just need 3 guys on the 4th line that will lay out dirty hits. You hit gabby too hard. Boom. There goes your star player. You ran Hank. Ill run our goalie an bust his arm. Or board your youngest and brightest guy on the ice into retirement.

    Please note my sarcasm.

  8. Dave says:

    If we go this route, it’s Konopka or bust.

    • Zen says:

      The problem is… does this become another Boogaard situation where Sather has to pay a premium to outbid another team for Konopka’s services? I hope not. We can’t afford to overpay a bottom sixer.

      • Blueshirt in Paris says:

        Yes we can…300k-500k one way or another does not make a grand difference in a well manged team. It only becomes a problem when it is not well managed and you give away 7mil of cap space each to 3 players not worth it. Those days are (almost) over.

  9. Jess says:

    The need for an enforcer is legit as Prust is not a true enforcer but rather a middleweight willing to take on the role.

    I do see the Rangers needing to find someone mainly to take the pressure off Prust who we all knew played last season with assorted injuries. Asking him to do this again would hurt the team as if you are wishing to buy out Avery and Drury then Prust on the PK makes their buyout safer to do.

    But think you are not looking at the Whale closer as there are Dale Weise (6’2 206) or John Mitchell (got at trading deadline, Schoeny likes him)

    Jason Wilson was just signed but was the bodyguard for Ryan Strome this past season.

    If they keep him Stu Bickel is closest to body size at 6’4 but NYR would need to carry him as a 7th

    Sorry Suit but choice of looking at busty physical therapist or watching you puke on your Armani. You lose every time, nothing personal

    • Dave says:

      Busty physical therapist or watching puke him puke on his Armani? Huh?

      • The Suit says:

        I have no idea what that means.

        • The Suit says:

          And I don’t see any of those players becomming a mainstay in the Rangers lineup. Maybe Mitchell, otherwise meh…

          • Dave says:

            Weise/Bickel I can see as injury call ups at some point, same with Mitchell. That, of course, is if Weise is brought back.

            Wilson not this year, but maybe another “Weise guy”.

            But no, not mainstays.