The Northwest Beefs Up

The Northwest Division is beefing up. The Avalanche have apparently signed forward/defenseman/goon Matt Carkner (Update: Matt Carnker will in fact sign in the Eastern Conference with the New York Islander) and the Wild have signed faceoff specialist/goon Zenon Konopka. The West is beefing up as a whole too, as the Sharks gave 4 years and nearly 8 million to Adam Burish…

Do the Canucks need to react to these moves? Should they? Popular opinion seems to indicate they should, as Vancouver’s current toughness consists of Dale Weise, Max Lapierre, Zack Kassian, and Kevin Bieksa.

In addition to signing Konopka, the Wild recently re-signed former Vancouver Giant Matt Kassian (no relation to Zack). Colorado is building a gritty team with the likes of Steve Downie, Cody McLeod, and Jamie McGinn up front, even if their Carkner report was embarrassingly premature.

Thomas Drance on what the Canucks should do to counter these signings:

I’d agree. The Canucks became the class of the NHL in 2010-11 because they made opposing teams pay with their power play. If other teams would try to goon it up with the Canucks, they would put the league’s best power play to work. The best knockout punch in the world has nothing on a few power play goals in terms of effectiveness.

Konopka is an interesting player, as he isn’t just a goon (like Carkner). He is one of the best faceoff men in the league, and he can kill penalties, too. The Wild have several defensively responsible centers now, as Konopka joins the likes of Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cullen, and Mikko Koivu.

George Parros is a free agent, but the Canucks apparently haven’t expressed any interest. According to Darren Dreger, there is interest in the most famous moustache in hockey.

Should the Canucks pursue toughness? Sure, it doesn’t hurt to add some size and grit to the mix, but those players have to be good enough at, you know, hockey to play 12 minutes per game. However, adding a player for the sake of keeping up with division rivals makes little sense, especially so early in the free agency game.