Earlier this week, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they had signed Michal Rozsival to a PTO (professional tryout contract). Today, the Blackhawks decided to extend their commitment to Rozsival by signing him to a one-year contract.
The financial terms of the deal have to be disclosed by the NHL, but GeneralFanager.com is reporting that the deal is worth $600,000. That would leave the Blackhawks with $331,540 in cap space for this season.
Rozsival recorded one goal and 12 assists in 65 games last regular season with the Blackhawks. In the playoffs, he had one assist over 10 games before suffering a gruesome ankle injury in Game 4 of the Minnesota Wild series. Rozsival had successful ankle surgery on May 12 and was expected to miss 3 to 4 months. He is currently still rehabbing his ankle injury from last season.
Despite fan complaints over his speed and play, Rozsival was an important piece to the Blackhawks championship puzzle last season. After his injury, the Blackhawks essentially went to a four-defensemen (Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya) rotation for the Western Conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.
By re-signing Rozsival, the Blackhawks are also showing us that coach Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff like to have five veteran defensemen on the NHL roster. It also shows us that the Blackhawks coaching staff might still be unsure of Trevor van Riemsdyk‘s and David Rundblad‘s stability on the blue line.
In my mind, the plan for Rozsival this season would be to platoon him on the final pairing with Rundblad and van Riemsdyk for three reasons. The first would be that Rozsival excels as a part-time defenseman. In 2013-14, he produced better numbers as a part-timer. In 42 games that season, he had one goal and seven assists. He only had five more assists in 13 more games last season. He also carried a plus-7 rating in 2013-14 as opposed to a 0 rating last season. The second reason is the health of Rozsival and van Riemsdyk. Both players were not healthy last season. Rozsvial is coming off an ankle injury while van Riemsdyk suffered wrist and leg injuries last season. Van Riemsdyk appeared in 22 total games last season including the regular season and playoffs. The third reason is the uncertainty surrounding Rundblad. Once a highly touted prospect, he is now a very shaky fifth or sixth defenseman.
For his career, Rozsival has appeared in 890 regular-season games. He has notched 66 goals and 227 assists for 293 points. He is a plus-83 for his career and a two time Stanley Cup champion, both with the Blackhawks.
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