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Penguins Add Toughness, Sign Heavyweight Enforcer Imama

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Bokondji Imama fights Matt Rempe

There has been a growing trend in the Metro Division over the last year of adding tough guys willing to fight. The Pittsburgh Penguins have been behind that curve for years, while teams such as the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils have added large enforcers. The Penguins reversed course Monday.

Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas signed heavyweight enforcer Bokondji Imama to a one-year deal with a $775,000 salary.

However, Dubas said the ability to drop the gloves was merely an ancillary benefit.

“When we went through the film on him, the key thing was his ability on the forecheck. He’s very effective there. Getting in on the forecheck, being physical, separating people from the puck, winning possession,” Dubas said. “It’s not just fighting. He’s a very tough customer, but for us, there’s a very good player there. He’s proven himself in the American League. He’s been able to come up and play in the NHL. We want him to come in, be a good player for us down there, help the young guys out. He’s got a great reputation–he’s been a captain in the AHL, so we’re excited to have him.”

Imama, 27, has 15 games of NHL experience over the last three seasons. He played nine with the defunct Arizona Coyotes and six last season with the Ottawa Senators. He has fought the biggest of the Metro Division, including Matt Rempe in the AHL and Kurtis MacDermid in the NHL.

Imama has also scrapped with Mark Boroweicki and Ryan Reaves.

He has three NHL fights and has lost all three, at least according to HockeyFights.com, but his willingness to do so would place him above the rest of the Penguins lineup, if or when he’s in the NHL lineup. Over the last couple of seasons, the task of standing up for teammates has fallen to lanky defenseman Marcus Pettersson and star center Sidney Crosby.

Imama could also force a fearsome duo with Jagger Joshua with the WBS Penguins. Both are big and aggressive physical forecheckers. The Penguins organization hasn’t had many of those in recent years.