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Potential UFA target: Zenon Konopka

The Rangers bottom six forwards are likely to go through a bit of turnover this summer with Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, and John Mitchell all being unrestricted free agents and Mats Zuccarello seemingly headed to the KHL. Although discussion about signing third and fourth line players isn’t the most enthralling topic in the world, these transactions are still critical when putting together a team meant to contend.

Today we are going to look at the pros and cons of signing Zenon Konopka, who just finished up a 1 year contract (worth $800K) with the Ottawa Senators.

Pros:

It’s no secret Zenon Konopka can fight. Listed at 6’0 210 lbs, Zenon is right smack in the middle of most enforcer’s weight class, which was a problem for the oversized Boogaard (RIP). Zenon was tied for third in the league with 18 fights. Clearly having his presence in the lineup would take some of the pressure off of Prust, should he be resigned.

It’s also no secret Konopka is very good at faceoffs. Last season he won 59% of his draws for the Senators. In 2011 he won 58% for the Islanders. For a Rangers team that spent way too much time in their own zone, having a faceoff specialist can be an advantage. Certainly Mitchell was no slouch either winning 53% of his faceoffs, but he wasn’t good enough defensively to see time on the penalty kill. During the playoffs, Mitchell played two minutes on the PK in total. Meanwhile, Konopka received over two and half minutes per game on the penalty kill.

Cons:

The Rangers couldn’t beat the Devils because of their offensive depth. Should the Rangers be looking to add some offense to their bottom 6, Konopka wouldn’t be the answer, since he has never scored more than 3 goals or 9 points during the regular season.

Zenon is another guy who takes a good amount of penalties for someone who doesn’t see a whole lot of ice time. Last season he had 19 minor penalties, one more than what Prust and Bickel received.

As far as advanced stats go, there is nothing that jumps off the page for Konopka. His corsi numbers during the regular season weren’t particularly strong, but you could say the same thing for most fourth line players in this league.

Cap/Contract:

Every summer when we start putting together these free agent posts, I always try to think of what I would do if it were me or someone I was advising looking for a contract. Put yourself in Zenon’s shoes. He is 31 years old. He has only been making NHL money for three seasons. At that, his contacts have been 1 year $700K, 1 year $600K, and 2 years $487K (but was only up in The Show for 1 year of that contract). Almost every year since juniors he’s played in a different city. If I had to make a guess, I would think he’s looking for a multi-year contract north of $1M per season, as he should.

The Final Word:

I think Zenon’s a better hockey player than most of the other enforcers around the league. He was certainly a matchup nightmare against the Rangers in the first round where he won 70% of his draws and received key minutes on the penalty kill. Still, are the Rangers willing to pay him six+ figures to play a bottom six role if we already have Boyle, Rupp, Dubinsky and potentially Prust?

It’s hard to say. Zenon would be an upgrade over Mitchell, but ultimately it depends on what Sather wants to do with the rest of our bottom six. I have no problem letting Mitchell and Fedotenko walk. With that said, the cost for some offensive help on the wings will likely determine what we spend on a fourth line center.

*Be sure to check out the rest of our free agent coverage here.

15 Responses to “Potential UFA target: Zenon Konopka”

  1. ranger17 says:

    what would the lines look like then
    **** BR *****
    Kreider Stepan Hags
    Dubie AA Cally
    Boyle Konopka Brust
    what then with Rupp who has 2 more yrs left
    We get Gabby back in Dec , and any one of Parise Nash Raduluv. Parise and Raduluv only cost $$$$ Nash will cost at least 2 roster players .
    Parise BR Kreider
    Cally Boyle AA
    Hags Stepan Dubie
    Rupp Konopka Prust
    Extra forward until Gabby gets back , how about we try to sign Gustead also,

    • The Suit says:

      I like Paul Gaustad, but he’s coming off of a multi-year $2.3M contract. He’ll probably get around the same coin, which I think is a bit expensive for a bottom six center, especially when you already have Boyle, Rupp and potentially Dubi and Arty who can serve that role.

  2. Matt J says:

    I like this post better than the Roszival one haha.

    Konopka is the type of player the Rangers should be looking for, but if Rupp is still going to play Konopka becomes redundant. Another guy who can’t put the puck in the net. Sure he’s a faceoff monster, but the Rangers should be focusing on improving Stepan and Anisimov in those areas.

    A guy I want is Kyle Wellwood. Would slot well on the bottom 6, and can score some goals. I believe he had 18 goals and 47 points last year. I’d imagine the Jets would try to keep him though, and it’s hard for me to say what kind of money he’d get on the open market.

    • Chris says:

      Wellwood would get eaten alive by Torts. He is talented (very talented actually) but is known for his poor conditioning and not being the hardest trainer around. That’s why he has bounced around the league a lot.

      If it was on talent alone Wellwood would be a productive top 6 player. Not one for Torts or his camps….

  3. Jeff P says:

    Here’s the approach I would take if I were the rangers:
    Gaborik* – Richards – Hagelin
    Player A – Stepan – Kreider
    Dubi – Anisimov – Callahan
    Player B – Boyle – Prust
    Rupp as the 13th forward.

    Konopka fits the mold of Player B just fine. The problem is player A. Outside of Parise, there is only three other players who are UFAs that I would want – Doan, Jagr and Selanne – none of them are at all likely.

  4. Spencer S says:

    Don’t quite see the need for Konopka, too many tough guys like mentioned above (Prust, Rupp) have the same role as him. Also many young guys (St. Croix, Miller, Fasth, etc.) are going to be fighting to make NHL roster, you have to leave some space. With Gaborik injured, you figure one can break through and play some to fill void. Lines until Gaborik comes back should look like this
    Richards-Hagelin-Kreider (speed to the max with Hags and Kreid)
    Stepan-Dubi-Cally (this line will grind for its goals)
    Anisimov-Boyle-Prust (checking line to the max)
    Rupp-Fedotenko-AHLer (fourth line lacks, but once Gaborik returns, odd man out gets bumped down but still has NHL experience if team hits injury bug

  5. The Suit says:

    Am I the only one on the internet who doesn’t like creating line combos in June?

    • Jeff P says:

      You aren’t creating anything that is set in stone, however, if your top 5 players are centers, you are probably looking for a wing, and vice versa. We have not done terribly well shifting natural centers to wing recently (see Dubinsky, Brandon and Anisimov, Artem)

  6. Stevo says:

    What about Jarret Stoll? UFA, decent scorer, would seem to be a good target.

  7. Zen says:

    Keno is a target if Prust leaves or Boyle/Rupp are moved. Otherwise he is redundant. We need bottom six guys whi have a scoring touch.

  8. ranger17 says:

    Stoll Gustead would be better than Konopka

    • Zen says:

      They would… the problem is that the weak UFA market will result in both guys being very overpaid. I hope Sather doesn’t do so.

      • The Suit says:

        Not sure who Gustead is, but Gaustad is likely getting over 2.5M. Pricey for a bottom 6 player, especially when we have Boyle executing the same role for under 2M.

  9. Rob sahm says:

    Yeah I would take him only if prust leaves we need scoring we have enough grinders how about looking at semin