Just after 3 PM Central Time, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired San Jose Sharks center Michal Handzus in exchange for a fourth round draft pick in 2013.
Handzus brings what the Hawks were looking for; a good face-off man. Despite being -9 this season with a meager 2 points in 28 games, Handzus has a 55.6% face-off percentage. He will most likely slot in on Andrew Shaw‘s third line center position, which will see an end to Marcus Kruger‘s time in Chicago, as he will most likely be sent down, or become a healthy scratch. With a faceoff percentage that will only be eclipsed by Jonathan Toews, Handzus will also be expected to become a fixture on the 2nd powerplay and penalty kill units, which is Dave Bolland‘s stomping ground. Without giving up a roster player, the Hawks can move into the rest of the season without messing up any chemistry on the first and second lines, barring there are no more trades left up Stan Bowman’s sleeve.
All things considered, this is a good move for the Blackhawks. They can continue defending their best-in-the-west spot in the standings, and add a little edge to the struggling powerplay. Bowman has added another player that might not be the flashiest, but the 36-year old will help out the Hawks enormously at the face-off dot, a spot where they have struggled all season despite all of their success.
Handzus is in the final year of his 2-year contract, which pays him $2.5 Million dollars. The Hawks may see him as a rental for the rest of the season, as he will become an UFA this summer, or he could be re-signed short-term. My guess is the latter will happen, as a fourth round pick is fairly substantial and would be considered too much for 2 months of play from Handzus.
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The Hawks take on Nashville tonight at the UC. Handzus may play his first game later this week. Go Hawks!!