This morning at 11 am, free agency opened up in the NHL. About 90 minutes later, the Wild announced they had sign F's Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell. Konopka was signed to a 2 year deal worth $925,000 each year and Mitchell was signed for 3 years worth $1.9 million each year.
Konopka has played parts of 7 seasons in the NHL and has bounced around seemingly every year. He has previously played for Anaheim, Columbus, Tampa Bay, New York Islanders, and Ottawa. The only team he has spent more than one season with is Tampa Bay (2008-2010). Konopka is an enforcer and has ranked atop the PIM charts in the NHL the past three years (265, 307, 193 PIMs in those respective years). He will bring a tough guy element to the Wild that the team has not had since the late Derek Boogaard left the team. But, one would argue that Matt Kassian did a solid job in that role in the limited time he got up here last year.
Mitchell comes over from the San Jose Sharks after spending parts of 5 seasons playing for them. He will add a more gritty element to the team and will spend time on the third or fourth line for the next three years. Mitchell has never put more than 23 points in a season, so don't expect to find him on the scoring sheet much. As Russo pointed out in his blog today, Mitchell has good speed and is an excellent penalty killer, a player Coach Mike Yeo loves to have.
So far, we have seen the Wild get much tougher here in free agency. With these moves now in hand, it would appear that Chuck Fletcher and his staff will be focused on signing the big fish in the free agency pool (Parise, Suter).
Welcome to the Team of 18,001 Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell!