Bolts Sign Zenon Konopka
Lindsay Kramer of the the Syracuse Post-Standard is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have inked Syracuse Crunch center and captain Zenon Konopka to a two-year deal. Konopka has spent the last season-and-a-half in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization after being traded by the Anaheim Ducks in January 2007.
Kramer reports that Konopka turned down a lucrative two-year, two-way deal from the Jackets that would have paid him $265k in each of the next two years to play for Syracuse. The Lightning's two-year deal involves a two-way contract for the first year with $100k minor league salary, but a coveted one-way contract for the 2nd year at or just above the league minimum NHL salary of $450k. Konopka finalized his decision after Tampa head coach Barry Melrose convinced him that he would have a better chance of making an NHL squad with the Lightning than with the Blue Jackets.
For the Norfolk Admirals, this is a good signing and becomes the immediate front-runner for the Admirals captaincy. Konopka is a career point-per-gamer in the AHL, while playing a tough and physical style of hockey. Last year he put up 24-31-55 in 64gp for Syracuse with a whopping 194 PIMs. He was also 3-7-10 in 13 playoff games this spring with another 42 PIMs in those games. He's one of those guys that comes to play everynight and maintains a pro career more because of his heart, work ethic, and toughness than due to raw skill and talent.
Along with the recent signing of Wyatt Smith, the Lightning have potentially addressed the anchors for the top two scoring lines next season, and gives the Lightning depth and options down the middle to address the loss of Jeff Halpern for at least the first half of next season.