Contract: Free agent. 2-yr contract ended at $1,000,000 for 2013-14.
Report Card Grade in 2013: N/A
Introduction: Konopka needs little introduction to hockey fans, having been around the block a few times, paying his dues in the AHL before making the Sabres his 7th NHL stop. He made his way to Buffalo after the Wild put him on waivers.
He was brought in for just two reasons - to fight, and win faceoffs. And fight he did, with aplomb too, racking up five majors in his nearly two dozen games in Buffalo. Unfortunately, he comprehensively lost three and drew two of those fights. Luckily he won some faceoffs in his almost nine minutes per game to partly redeem himself.
As if that wasn't bad enough, this offseason he went and got himself suspended for use of an over-the-counter-product banned by the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. The twenty-game suspension puts him out for the first quarter of the season and makes it very unlikely that any team will stash this free agent on their roster.
Key Stat: A complete lack of offensive presence has doomed his NHL career from the beginning, and continued to plague him at Buffalo where he recorded one assist and a -4 in 23 games. This on a team where John Scott scored a goal and Ville Leino failed to disturb the twine. How about that for some perspective.
Thumbs Up: The veteran led the team in faceoff win percentage - his 57.3% with the Sabres was well ahead of the pack, with only Steve Ott and Mikhail Grigorenko clearing the .500 mark.
Thumbs Down: Everything really. There is no upside to this veteran, he is a known commodity. If he's not winning fights and scoring points, winning faceoffs in his 63.7 Defensive Zone Starts is not enough to warrant a NHL contract.
Memorable Moment: For a tough guy, he only hits about once a game. Mike Weber averages about three. Really struggled to find a memorable moment for Konopka, and could only come up with his sole assist of the season for the Sabres.
He was barely even on the ice for this, having passed the puck to Drew Stafford and skated off to the bench! For the record, the Sabres lost this game giving up three goals in the third period.
Voting: We're grading on a curve this year, adjusting for the Sabres organizational ineptitude. So, using the good old grade school system of A, B, C, D, F, with A representing a great season (for the Sabres) C an average season, and F a very poor season (again, for the worst team in the league) grade Zenon Konopka on his performance this year.