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There are few guarantees in the National Hockey League, but fans know that when the lights go on and the referee is ready to drop the puck, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival is going to be suited up and ready to play. From 2005 to 2012, he has played an average of roughly 74 games per season and has made a positive impact on the blue line for each franchise he has represented. Though you don’t hear his names associated with the likes of Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook, Rozsival is very talented on both sides of the puck, and brings leadership to a talented blue line group that helped the ‘Hawks play great two-way hockey in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In 27 games last year, Rozsival had 12 assists and a plus/minus pf 18, a number that on a per game basis, would rank him among the NHL’s elite defensemen. Throughout his career he has managed to have a positive rating, even though he does not put many goals in the net himself. In those same 27 games last season Rozsival failed to score a goal and continued that goal drought throughout the entirety of the playoffs. However, this is not what the Blackhawks expect from Rozsival. They expect him to be in the lineup night in and night out and help keep opposing players from getting comfortable both in front and behind the net.
I expect him to play roughly 20 minutes a night, similar to last year, and to contribute in ways that may not show up on the stat sheet. He has always been extremely consistent and barring a rare health concern, I expect Rozsival to make good on his recent two-year extension with selfless play and veteran saavy that only players who have played as many games as he has can acquire.
All of these factors considered, I believe Rozsival will play in 68 games, accumulating 3 goals, 21 assists, with a plus/minus rating of 14. He has also managed to stay out of the news in his time with Chicago, as well as his time in the big market of New York with the New York Rangers. Maybe he may surprise is with some unique facial hair or perhaps dating a young celebrity who can get him on the front page of the Tribune? Well until then, Rozsival will continue to pack his hardhat and his lunch pail to bring to the United Center to do his job for the ‘Hawks.