JR has stated that he’s all but done with off season acquisitions. There is but only one position left on his wishlist. He is keeping his eyes peeled for a “gritty, tough-guy forward” to help protect some of his more precious assets. I understand the need to keep a player of that ilk handy although, having him on the active roster every night just isn’t feasible in today’s NHL. With all of the newer NHL rules the offense has been getting increasingly more lethal and most teams can’t afford to delegate an offensive roster spot to a player that doesn’t help tally points. There are a few elite type Enforcers in the league like Steve Ott (easy, Timmy) or Chris Neal that can produce points almost as well as they produce pain. But, more often than not the Enforcer will be on speed dial from the minors or with the big club as a healthy scratch.
Considering how little the position contributes in most occasions, why spend any time or effort looking for that player when we have Nicolas Blanchard right down the road in Charlotte? The 6’3″; 206 lbs. left wing has been in the system since he was selected #192 overall by the ‘Canes back in the ’05 Draft in Ottawa. He was one of the players that was hospitalized during the bus crash back in ’09 when the team still played in Albany. Over the past 5 seasons, Blanchard has played 335 games netting 103 points and accruing 577 PIMs. But the most important stat of all? He has been involved in 67 bouts in that same time period. That’s an average of about 13.5 melees a year. As a team, the ’11-’12 Hurricanes only had a total of 19. He’s not a perfect pugilist (Yaaay alliteration!), but he does have the skills to get the job done. He’s stronger than he looks, he can take a punch, he can work out of a clinch, he has a solid base, a sneaky uppercut, and a short temper. He doesn’t back down and is also quick to jump in and stick up for his comrades. Pretty much all ideal attributes for an Enforcer. In addition, there is virtually no cap hit as he is currently right around the league minimum $525,000. There’s really no downside to letting Blanchard try his hand at the role. So, if a banger is what JR is looking for, I would recommend a quick trip down I- 85.
OK! Enough with the yapping! Wanna see some of his handy work? That’s what I thought! Here’s some of the fights that proved to me that he should be considered for the job.