Save a spot on your fantasy squad for these future enforcers.
The July 5th signing of 33-year-old George Parros and his 1007 NHL career penalty minutes with the Montreal Canadiens spits in the face of hockey pundits who say the sport of hockey has outgrown fighting and that the NHL enforcer is slowly becoming extinct. The truncated 2012-2013 NHL season treated fight fans to 347 bouts according to Hockeyfights.com, and it shows that neither the fans, nor the players have lost their taste for blood. The role of the enforcer or tough guy on NHL squads remains as essential as ever, with some teams like the Toronto Maples Leafs even dressing two in left winger Frazer McLaren and resurgent right winger, Colton Orr who each played a combined 79 games with the Leafs last season. Tough wins hockey games and the role of Enforcer isn’t going anywhere. Every team should have one on their roster and if PIM is a stat category in your league, your fantasy team should be no exception. Look for this next generation of tough guys to lead the way into the penalty box in the coming years.
David Dziurzynski – Undrafted
Best remembered for one of the scarier moments of the 2012-2013 season, but the 23-year-old left winger showed a lot of guts squaring off with 6-foot-5, 250 pound Maple Leafs forward Frazer McLaren 26 seconds into the March 6th rendition of the Battle of Ontario earlier this year. Dziurzynski got knocked out stone cold by McLaren, after logging 0:03 TOI that night, but proved his willingness to drop the gloves, even against some of the league’s tougher customers. Dziurzynski is no short-stack either, standing at 6-foot-3, 204 pounds; he utilizes his size to dish out big hits and had 29 in 12 games last season. He is not a one-dimensional tough guy, proving he has the ability to contribute, notching 20 points and 110 PIM with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate the Binghamton Senators last season. What he lacks in skill he will need to make up for in toughness as he carves out his niche in the NHL as a tough guy with the ability to contribute. Dziurzynski is a good bet to be the Sens PIM leader in the coming years.
Erick Selleck – Undrafted
In his March 19th NHL debut, 6-foot-2 and 195 pound Erick Selleck danced with Carolina Hurricanes right winger Kevin Westgarth in his first NHL fight, and it won’t be his last. Selleck’s numbers do not lie, 599 PIM in 198 AHL games over three seasons with the Rochester Americans and San Antonio Rampage. Selleck is an enforcer through and through and if anyone is going to take the recently vacated spot of George Parros in Florida, it’s him. Selleck lacks the essential skill necessary to compete at the NHL level, but when the Panthers need that tough element to watch out for their thriving young guns, Selleck will be the ticket and has the potential to log some 150+ PIM seasons in the coming years as an enforcer.
Keegan Kanzig – Round 3, 67 Overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Keegan Kanzig is as scary as most 18-year-olds come at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds. The Calgary Flames’ prospect notched 159 PIM in 70 games with the Victoria Royals of the Western League last season. Despite the ability to drop the gloves with no hesitation to protect his teammates, Kanzig has great upside as a defenseman who can shut down forwards with his size alone. Although not nearly as skilled, Kanzig could bring an element of size and physicality to the Flames, similar to Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara, whom Kanzig likens his play to. Like Chara, Kanzig would likely never loose a fight in the NHL due to his massive size alone and has the potential to one day log some regular minutes as a stay-at home defenseman.
Sena Acolaste – Undrafted
Of all the players on this list, 22-year-old defensemen Sena Acolaste is the most skilled, scoring 21 points in 50 games with the San Jose Sharks’ affiliate Worcester last season, while notching 62 PIM. Touted by scouts for playing a very physical game, Acolaste is a great hitter and a skilled fighter. Acolaste will need to utilize his physical game to make it at the NHL level and his outstanding fighting abilities might just get him there.
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