With the lockout over it'll be interesting to see what AHL enforcers get the call to National Hockey League teams and how often they will play. The top fighters in the American League include Steve MacIntyre(Pittsburgh), Joel Rechlicz (Phoenix), Brett Gallant (Islanders), Patrick Bordaleau (Colorado), Anthony Peluso (St Louis), Brandon Bollig (Chicago), Jay Rosehill (Anahiem), Eric Neilson (Tampa) , Jimmy Bonneau & Fraser McLaren (San Jose).
MacIntyre should get the call at some point if not to start the shortened NHL season but how much he will play remains to be seen.
Wrecker's been on the cusp of making it for some time now but hasn't had the right opportunity in Washington. Hopefully he'll step into Phenoix and provide Yotes fans with the type of entertainment on the ice that Paul Bissonnette seemed to reserve for Twitter more often than not.
Brett Gallant has been fighting up a storm and appears to have finally landed a full time AHL gig. An NHL callup is unlikely this season though given that the Islanders organization after abandoning the toughness they built up for a couple of seasons last year when they iced a pussy lineup for the most part they have re-loaded with heavyweights Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton to go along with Matt Martin. There's not going to be any room there for Gallant barring injury or a circumstancial spot duty call up this year. He's doing a great job taking things one step at a time though and seems to have parlayed his ECHL career with AHL spot duty into a now full time AHL gig where he's quickly established himself as one of the top heavyweights at that level as well. If he continues on the track he's on, we may see him in the show at some point although he's not the type of player the NHL is looking for these days.
Patrick Bordeleau is guy who outside of MacIntyre is probably as dangerous a fighter as anyone in the American League. He's just a monster physically and he rarely loses. His commitment to the role and his fight card has long been called into question by me at least as I don't think he fights nearly as much as he should but everytime his gloves do come off he continues to win and impress. The Avalanche have no real toughness to speak of and if Minnisota have Konopka going in tandem with heavyweight Matt Kassian and the Canucks give Zack Kassian a full time role with Hordicuk still on the go in Edmonton, Colorado and Calgary stand out as the two pussy teams of that division. Bordeleau could quickly change that outlook for the 'Lanche and if Calgary would re-sign MIA Unrestricted free agent PL3 it would really round out the division nicely.
Anthony Peluso is another monster who can be devistating when the gloves come off. It will should be a bit more difficult to crack the Blues Roster with Reaves handling the heavyweight duties and a fairly solid group of gritty players who have one of the better examples of "team toughness" around the league with several players be it lightweights or middleweights, willing to drop the gloves if need be. Peluso is a true Heavyweight though and if Nashville play McGrattan regularly and Chicago have Bollig running around there might be an opportunity there for Peluso to get a shot at some point. Brett Ponich could also fill in effectively for Reaves should he get hurt at any point on defense.
Brandon Bollig should be starting the season with the Blackhawks. He was impressive last season in a run that looked like it was well on his way to landing him a full time job by fighting everyone in the regular season that he could and even seeing some ice in the playoffs he should be back when the season starts and ready to go.
Jay Rosehill I would expect to get the call in Anahiem. With Parros gone to Florida and Rosehill having established himself as a solid NHL level enforcer with some speed and hockey skill to go with it, I would expect he'll assume the enforcer role in Anahiem. He has a great work ethic and he's got some skill, he's fearless and willing to fight anyone and can hold his own against anyone with the gloves off but he also hits everything that moves and has high energy shifts that can sometimes change up the momentum even without a fight. He should be Bruce Boudreau's type of enforcer moreso than the more one demensional type of guy who Bruce tended to bench more often than not in recent years.
Eric Neilson is a legit AHL top 10 heavyweight as well but the likelyhood of him seeing any NHL action is very slim at this point. I think he has an AHL contract so Tampa would be more likely to go with Labrie if they were looking to add some toughness to their pathetic NHL roster of pussies. Keith Aulie should get the call and be a bit of a bright spot there as he can fight quite well and is solid on the point. I'm still bitter that Toronto let him go.
The Sharks have all kinds of options for toughness in their system but who they'll bring up I guess remains to be seen. Jimmy Bonneau is probably the best fighter but the least likely to get the call as he's a totally one demensional fighter. Frazer McLaren however can play some hockey and can scrap. He seemed like he was sure to have an NHL future before injuries through his career off track but he seems to be healthy again and hopefully will get a look at some point. Brandon Mashinter will probably be the first to get the call and he has all the tools to be a solid heavyweight fighter at any level but his willingness and comittment to the role remains the biggest question mark that surrounds him. He's a decent hockey player and a very good fighter and could probably take the enforcer role in San Jose if he wants it but if he doesn't, the organization has several other guys like McLaren Bracken Kearns and Kurt Gogol who may not have the physical gifts Mashinter has for the role but are decent and extremely hungry and willing to dowhatever it takes for an opportunity. Sena Acolatse and Matt Pelech are also in Worcester on Defense and they might be in line for an NHL opportunity should the Sharks not end up resigning Jimmy Vandermeer.
Dylan McIlrath has began fighting a fair bit at the AHL level all of a sudden after a quiet start and some injury problems. He's looked good in his fights so far and it'll be interesting to see if the Rangers decide to have a look at him at some point this season. In the meantime Michael Haley should get the call from the get go to assume the role vacated by Brandon Prust. Speaking of Prust, he'll make his new home in Montreal and carry the load for them but perhaps at some point the Habs will have a look at Jared Tinordi this year as well.
Hopefully Colton Orr will be back with the Leafs and not the Marlies when the season starts but if he isn't Toronto will have no toughness at all. Mark Fraser's been a plesant surprise for the Marlies with the success he's had with his gloves off and I wouldn't mind seeing him on the blueline in Toronto, riding shotgun for Orr of course. That would then open the door on the farm for Jamie Devane to take the next step and move from the ECHL where he's been knocking out everyone he fights to the American League where he'd face a little more competition.
| "To be honest, even though he lost, Hendricks did a better job of enforcing than most heavyweight enforcers do." - Peatycap|
Not only is the NHL totally fucked it's fans are out to lunch now as well