Earlier today, the Blackhawks made their first (and only?!) trade of the 2013 trade deadline frenzy, picking up SJS C Michal Handzus for a fourth round 2013 draft pick. It was no secret that a good faceoff man other than Jonathan Toews was needed in the Windy City, but is Hanzus the right man for the job?
Strength at Faceoffs
Handzus was acquired for a multitude of reasons, but the most important one is that it gives the Blackhawks alot more power in the faceoff dot, something the team has not been very good at as a whole during the 2013 campaign. His 55.6 FO% is among the league’s best, and will be second-best on the team, behind the aforementioned Toews. This will be key on the struggling powerplay, and solidify the penalty kill.
At 6’5″, Handzus is a large presence, and weighing in at 215 pounds will make it difficult to knock him around. He can throw his body around, which will be helpful if he is put on the third line, where he will be expected to be phyiscal. Being a center requires him to be in front of the net at both ends of the ice, and he will have to put all of his size to use there.
Handzus is 36 years of age and has played with 6 different NHL teams, one of which was the Blackhawks for 8 games, back in 06-07. He has played many international games on top of that, and he brings a vast knowledge of the game to the team. He will be providing the team with another voice in the room, one that can calm the team down if needed, and he will stick to the fundamentals of the game.
Although he has delivered at the faceoff dot, Handzus has not done as well on the scoresheet, recording just one goal and one assist in 28 games, both of which came against the very same Blackhawks he plays for now. Some of this can be blamed on the fact that he was third line center on a struggling Sharks team, but not all. Hopefully the trade and good chance of success, paired with linemates that are playing well, will breathe life in to Handzus.
Handzus is not only aging, but not playing at the high level that another 36 year old on the team is, (Marian Hossa) and he may not have as much gas left in the tank as others his age. On top of that, he is set to become an UFA at the end of this season, and even if the Hawks sign him, one or two years will be as long as it gets. Giving up a fourth round pick could be a high price to pay for a player that may only play 2 more months in a Hawks sweater, especially so if the team has limited success with him.
Less chance of a bigger, more effective trade
Due to Handzus’ 2.5 million dollar cap hit, the Hawks’ lessen their opportunity to go after a 2nd pairing defenseman, a move that has been rumored they expressed intrest in. Organizations that have players like Lubomir Visnovsky, Mark Streit, or Matt Calvert may not give any thought to the Blackhawks after this recent move, something that has also been rumored they were doing. Blackhawks’ brass may be forced to dump a roster player if they make a future trade, or they may be finished trading for the 2013 season altogether.
The outcome of this trade can not be decided until two things happen; Handzus plays a game or two for the Blackhawks, which could be as soon as this week, and San Jose uses the draft pick they have received, which will not be until early summer.
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