Senators Sign Zenon Konopka

The Ottawa Senators announced the signing of 30-year old Zenon Konopka today (reportedly 700k).  Rumours of Konopka coming to Ottawa have been floating around forever (the most recent I can remember is here www.ottawasun.com/2011/06/26/sens-should-target-free-agent-konopka), but the former Ottawa 67 has finally landed in the capital.  While a productive forward both at the junior and AHL level, fighting is what got Konopka into the NHL.  Besides toughness, Konopka is one of the NHL’s faceoff leaders (57.7% last year) and a solid penalty killer.  Last year was Konopka’s second full year in the NHL and he finished it with 25 fighting majors (second in the league behind George Parros).  The year before he lead the league with 33 fights.

I expect the Sens won’t require Konopka to fight as much, acquiring him as much for his faceoff and defensive skills (although his acquisition should lessen the load on Chris Neil and Matt Carkner).  Term was likely also an attractive factor.  The signing makes me wonder if Jesse Winchester will move to the wing, as the Sens now have 6 centers on the roster (Colin Greening has been playing leftwing, but was a center until he turned pro).

Konopka’s stats with the Islanders: 82-2-7-9 307 pims

With Konopka signed the Senators now have 10 one-way contracts at the forward position, with Bobby Butler and Erik Condra still to be signed and Nikita Filatov slotted to play.  Barring a trade, there isn’t much room for young players to make the team.

Speaking of signings, the numbers have come out for Francis Lessard‘s two-way deal: his salary is unchanged from his previous contract (550k NHL/100k AHL).

Wrapping up the Senators Development Camp

Yesterday marked the end of the Ottawa Senators Development Camp with the annual 3-on-3 finale.  Team Blue (Mike Hoffman, Stefan Noesen, Mark Stone, Ben Blood, Kirill Lyamin, and Ryan Dzingel) won the competition, while Mark Borowiecki was named the hardest worker in camp.  The increase in the talent of the players in the system was evident.  I’ve included thoughts on individual players below (arranged by position and age), along with links to videos and stories from the camp.  It’s worth remembering to take these camp performances with a grain of salt.

Forwards
Pat Cannone (FA 2011, Miami, NCAA) – the 24-year old did not stand out at camp; he has decent hands/shot (was a shoot-first player); will play in Binghamton
Corey Cowick (6-160 2009) – the former 67 didn’t stand out; he showed decent speed and played physical, but wasn’t able to gel with teammates in the offensive zone; will return to Binghamton
David Dziurzynski (FA 2010, Alberni, BCHL) – enjoyed a good camp; he’s a big north-south player who is great along the boards; he showed good instincts in the offensive zone; will return to Binghamton
Louie Caporusso (3-90 2007) – the Michigan graduate used to shine at these camps, but beginning last year the talent around him was catching up–this year he was largely invisible; while he has decent hands, he overhandles the puck and didn’t display separation speed; will play in Binghamton
Stephane Da Costa (FA 2011, Merrimack, NCAA) – I expected more from him; despite showing good hands, he did not stand out; will play in Binghamton
Brad Peltz (7-190 2009) – after a strong camp last year he was largely invisible; he has good speed and a shoot-first mentality; nearly got into a fight with Shane Prince in the 3-on-3 tourney; returns to Yale for his sophomore year
Mike Hoffman (5-130 2009) – dominated all the game-play I saw, reminding me of his performance at the rookie tournament last fall; fantastic skill set (hands, vision, shot) and I’ll be interested to see how that translates in September; will return to Binghamton
Derek Grant (4-119 2008) – the first camp where I really noticed him; great hands for a big man; will play in Binghamton
Nikita Filatov (T – Columbus) – only able to attend two days of camp using borrowed equipment; showed his skill, speed, and competitiveness; will play in Ottawa
Andre Petersson (4-109 2008) – despite recovering from back problems, Petersson was excellent, particularly dominant in the 3-on-3 tournament; good hands, good speed, and a great shot; will play in Binghamton
Wacey Hamilton (FA 2011, Medicine Hat, WHL) – didn’t notice him until the 3-on-3 tourney, where he showed great net drive; a competitive, north-south player; will play in Binghamton
Jakob Silfverberg (2-39 2009) – enjoyed a great camp; he didn’t always stand out, but competed hard and was a monster defensively; great shot and excellent instincts; expected to return to Brynas
Jeff Costello (5-146 2009) – he missed the scrimmage with what I presume was an injury [He did play in the scrimmage, but wasn’t very noticeable–what he missed was the on-ice practice the day before], but showed some good moves in the 3-on-3 tournament; he has good hands and drives the net; returns to Notre Dame for his sophomore year
Darren Kramer (6-156 2011) – the best fighter in the draft didn’t show much at camp beyond effort; needs to work on everything (skating, hands, etc); returns to Spokane
Ryan Dzingel (7-204 2011) – one of the least developed players at camp, he did not stand out; has decent hands; begins his NCAA career at Ohio State
Marcus Sorensen (4-106 2010) – a little less hyper than last year, he did not stand out; a hard worker who drives the net, he needs to bulk up; will play for Skelleftea
Max McCormick (6-171 2011) – showed flashes of what he is–an agitating player who goes hard to the net and into the corners; begins his NCAA career at Ohio State
Mark Stone (6-178 2010) – was invisible at his first camp last year, but was good this time around; good hands (passing and shooting) and drive to the net; needs to work on his footspeed; returns to Brandon
Jakub Culek (3-76 2010) – coming off a tough year in Rimouski, he was largely invisible; good size and hands, his decision-making is a problem; returns to Rimouski
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (4-96 2011) – had a good camp, with good speed and hands; tended to hold on to the puck too much; returns to Gatineau
Shane Prince (2-61 2011) – enjoyed a strong camp; competitive with good speed and great hands; returns to the Ottawa 67s
Matt Puempel (1-24 2011) – the organisation kept him out of the competitive portion of the camp, so he was very much invisible (he did post blogs on the Sens website however); returns to Peterborough
Stefan Noesen (1-21 2011) – a camp standout, he showed great speed, hands, and shot; returns to Plymouth
Mika Zibanejad (1-6 2011) – he had a mixed camp; showed great speed, moves, and shot, but tried to do too much (particularly when he got frustrated); either makes Ottawa or returns to Djurgarden

Defense

Kirill Lyamin (2-58 2004) – the big Russian defenseman had a solid camp; not flashy, but a good stick and was very effective in the 3-on-3 tourney; is not very physical despite a big frame; returns to Avangard Omsk in the KHL
Ben Blood (4-120 2007) – the big man enjoyed a good camp; physical and competes hard; does not have great hands; returns for his senior year at North Dakota
Mark Borowiecki (5-139 2008) – has improved every camp he’s attended and was this year’s hardest worker; a fantastic open-ice hitter, he was (again) the most physical player in camp and showed improved speed; he still needs to work on his skills; will play in Binghamton
Chris Wideman (4-100 2009) – largely invisible; a good passer and able to work through traffic; probably needs an extra step to move to the next level; returns for his senior year at Miami
Bryce Aneloski (7-196 2010) – not very noticeable beyond having bulked up; decent hands and has added physicality; needs to improve his overall game; returns for his sophomore year at Nebraska-Omaha
David Rundblad (T – St. Louis) – I expected a lot more from Rundblad, who didn’t ratchet up his intensity; great hands and puck skills; guilty of overhandling the puck; will play in Ottawa
Patrick Wiercioch (2-42 2008) – didn’t stand out and had a rough 3-on-3 tourney; smooth skater with good hands, he still needs to bulk up and get more involved; returns to Binghamton
Jared Cowen (1-9 2009) – had an average camp; physical, good stick, and showed some nice moves; needs to work on his shot; will play in Binghamton or Ottawa
Fredrik Claesson (5-126 2011) – had an excellent camp; competitive, strong along the boards and has good hands; returns to Djurgarden
Jordan Fransoo (7-186 2011) – largely invisible; looked a little shellshocked at times; needs to fill out and work on his one-on-one defensive skills; returns to Brandon

Goalies

Scott Greenham (FA NCAA) – played reasonably well, but didn’t stand out; returns for his senior year at Alaska
Adam Janecyk (FA NCAA) – was strong in the scrimmage; returns for his sophomore year at the University of Michigan
Matt O’Connor (FA USHL) – the big man is a project; was beat often upstairs and couldn’t keep pucks from going through him down low; begins his NCAA career at Boston University

Video Links
http://senators.nhl.com/index.html – the Sens site has video clips from all 7 days of the camp, including interviews with Mike Hoffman (his own clip), Jakob Silfverberg (day 6), Mika Zibanejad (day 5), Mark Borowiecki (day 3), Nikita Filatov (his own clip), Jared Cowen (day 2), and David Rundblad (day 1)
A fan’s video clips post from the 3-on-3 tournament:
Orange vs Grey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV2FvHlrdyw (this features the near fight between Peltz and Prince)
Black vs Red: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22zieZisUN4 (watch Costello turn Caporusso into a pilon)
Blue vs Grey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUZdanoPVrs
Grey vs Red (semifinal): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vAQR4uyv7Q
Blue vs Grey (final): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIE6X8PhMx0

Story Links:
Organisational comments (mentioning Rundblad, Cowen, Silfverberg, Zibanejad, Hoffman, and Borowiecki) – http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=568466&cmpid=rss-brodie
Mark Borowiecki – http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/hockey/ottawa-senators/%20Borowiecki+defying+odds+rapid+development+Senators/5047852/story.html and http://www.faceoff.com/hockey/teams/ottawa-senators/Borowiecki+defying+odds+ rapid+development/5047852/story.html
Shane Prince – http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/07/03/sens-prince-in-waiting
Max McCormick and Ryan Dzingel – http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=568401
Stefan Noesen – http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/06/30/whirlwind-experience-for-sens-pick-noesen
Wacey Hamilton – http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=568349
Darren Kramer – http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=568061
Jakob Silfverberg – http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=567898 and http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/hockey/ottawa-senators/Senators+draftee+ Silfverberg+elects+stay+Sweden+another+year/5025877/story.html
Mark Stone – http://www.faceoff.com/hockey/teams/ottawa-senators/Feet+stone+hands +gold+Senators+prospect+scoring/5033116/story.html
Jean-Gabriel Pageau – http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/hockey/ottawa-senators/ Reality+slowly+sinks+Olympiques+standout+Pageau+Senators+development/5019657/story.html
David Rundblad – http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/06/28/going-green-with-rundblad
Matt Puempel – http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150223161055670&oid=254660295467&comments
Mika Zibanejad – http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150705465750585&oid=254660295467&comments