The Chicago Blackhawks Added Two Familiar Faces At Little Cost
It looks pretty bad on the surface, and it’s not the greatest news in the world. But the Chicago Blackhawks have re-sign aging defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Brandon Mashinter to one-year deals for the 2016-17 season.
Rozsival will collect $600,000, while Mashinter will make $575,000. These are low-cost deals with guys who know the Blackhawks’ system, and it’s likely coach Joel Quenneville had his voice heard when General Manager Stan Bowman was trying to figure out who he should keep around. After all, Rozsival and Mashinter are definitely Coach Q guys.
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So there’s obviously not a great amount of positive feedback to give Rozsival and Mashinter after last season. Rozsival came back from a badly broken ankle in the 2015 postseason and was even a step slower than he had previously been. In 51 regular-season games, he tallied 13 points (12 assists), and he added no points in four postseason games.
Rozsival received primarily offensive-zone starts last season but still struggled to maintain the puck. His Corsi-for rate of 50.3 was well down from last season’s 53.9 despite getting more offensive-zone starts in 2015-16. Rozsival will be 38 before the 2016-17 season starts.
Mashinter was a fourth-line winger who kept finding his way into the Blackhawks lineup last season, much to the chagrin of myself and some other Blackhawks fans. He netted five points (four goals) in 41 regular-season games and had no points in two playoff games. He actually received more defensive-zone starts than offensive last season, but his Corsi-for rate as a result was a motley 44.1. Mashinter will be 28 before the 2016-17 season begins.
So on the surface, this looks like a deal to A) keep in place a couple of guys who are familiar with the way the Blackhawks operate on the ice and B) to placate Quenneville. However, there could be more to it than that.
Re-signing these two guys at such a low cost — specifically a cost lower than the entry-level contracts of younger players — ensures the Blackhawks have enough cap space to bring in a guy like defenseman Brian Campbell. And with that rumor gaining a ton of traction in the last hour or so …
… these moves make a lot more sense. It’s highly, highly unlikely Rozsival and Mashinter get anywhere near 82 games next season. Hell, they might not even hit 41 apiece. But it gives the Blackhawks more options and more salary cap flexibility.
Plenty of youngsters will be given a run during training camp to fill holes on the big-league roster. But what if those youngsters we’re relying on stepping up fall short of expectations? (Knowing Coach Q’s expectations, this is entirely possible.) Well, then you need someone else to fill roster spots, and that’s where Rozsival and Mashinter come in again.
So this is a multi-faceted deal. Is it for two of the league’s better players? Far from it. But it’s more of a maneuver by Bowman to make sure there’s space, even at a discount, to re-sign Campbell while also making sure there are ample options at the wing and on defense moving forward.
For the cost, I think Rozsival and Mashinter’s re-signings are fine. My only hope is we don’t see them on the ice regularly. I think Rozsival’s lack of mobility severely hampers the Blackhawks, and Mashinter pretty much just floats around the ice.
But they both know how to play hockey, and I guess that’s what we’re reaching for at this point. We’ll all feel a little better about the deal if it does indeed lead to Campbell.