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Kostopoulos Brings Character, Grit

Wednesday, 07.15.2009 / 11:41 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Kostopoulos Brings Character, Grit
When Hurricanes management said that it wanted the team to add some size and toughness over the summer, it wasn’t kidding.

Paul Branecky
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What started at the draft and was followed by a few depth additions last week continued with the signing of former Montreal Canadiens winger Tom Kostopoulos on Tuesday. Kostopoulos’ 106 penalty minutes in 2008-09 were 27 more than any Hurricanes player recorded last season and also marked the third time he’s broken triple digits in that category in five full NHL seasons.

Kostopoulos is a guy that we’ve liked for a long time,” said Jason Karmanos, the Hurricanes’ vice president and assistant general manager. “Our scouts have tracked his career, and he’s definitely a character guy and a versatile guy. He’s the type of guy you need on any winning team, and we’re excited to have him.”

“I’m a good defensive player who can chip in every now and then offensively, and I know they’re going to ask me to bring that physical play as well,” said Kostopoulos.

Besides the physical element, Kostopoulos, 30, was known in Montreal for his outstanding work ethic and willingness to drive to the net. 

“I try to base my game on hard work,” he said. “I don’t do anything flashy. I play hard along the boards and do whatever is asked of me to help the team win.”

That attitude earned him the nickname “Nonstopoulos” from his coach in junior hockey – a moniker that has occasionally popped up throughout his career, including his time with a typically unforgiving fan base in Montreal.

“They usually get on the superstars a little more, so a hard-working guy like myself was usually OK,” he said with a laugh. “It was a really fun place to play.”

Kostopoulos said he was drawn to the Carolina organization for its league-wide reputation for fielding a tenacious team on the ice and for how well it treats its players. He also had encouraging conversations with former Los Angeles teammates Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason, as well as former Hurricane Jeff O’Neill.

“Even before that you always heard things around the league about how well they treat their players,” he said. “I’ve never heard a bad word about the city or the organization.”

Kostopoulos was also pleased with the Hurricanes’ clear desire to add him to the fold, saying that his agent received a call from Carolina in the infant stages of the unrestricted free agency period.

“One of the big points for me is that they called around 12:01 on July 1,” he said. “It’s not always a money thing. Sometimes it’s about who shows the most interest right away.”

For now, Kostopoulos seems set to take over the roster spot held by Ryan Bayda last season, marking the only change among the team’s top 12 forwards thus far. Bayda remains an unrestricted free agent, with a two-way contract from the Hurricanes still available if he chooses to accept it.

He bounces between the third and fourth line and kills penalties,” said Karmanos of Kostopoulos. “He’s a guy that at times can play a larger role and can take on more minutes. He can play in that checking line role as an agitator who gets in on the forecheck, and the good thing is that he’s got the ability to bump up in the lines at times when we need him to.”

The Kostopoulos signing would seem to increase the team’s depth at forward from a season ago, which makes the move a little surprising when considering the more pressing needs on defense following the departures of Anton Babchuk and Dennis Seidenberg.

Filling those holes remains the top priority, as negotiations with a few remaining free agents, including Seidenberg, are ongoing.

“We’ve got a couple of players that we’re talking to now, and if those came through we pretty much feel that would fill out our defense,” said Karmanos.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81