Give Michal Handzus credit, because we hear it’s quite difficult to skate when you have a fork stuck in you. Which is a crude and roundabout way of saying the 36-year-old San Jose Sharks center is done.
Make that former San Jose Sharks center: An unrestricted free agent this summer, the ‘Zus was traded by the Sharks to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday afternoon. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reports that it’s a fourth-round pick going back to San Jose in the deal.
This is Handzus’s second stint with the Blackhawks, having started the 2006-07 season with eight points in eight games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He was signed by the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent the following season.
Don’t expect a point-per-game pace from Handzus. Actually, don’t expect offense at all: He has 1 goal and 1 assist in 28 games, good for an 0.07 points-per-game average.
So why did the Blackhawks trade for him?
Defensive depth up front and the almighty faceoff, that's why.
The Blackhawks are 18th in the NHL (49.9 percent) on draws despite the presence of Jonathan Toews, and Handzus has won 165 of 297 draws for a 55.6 percent winning clip. That more than makes up for underwhelming seasons from Dave Bolland (45.1), Marcus Kruger (44.9) and Andrew Shaw (42.8) in the circle.
Otherwise, Handzus is a spare part (13:32 TOI) who can play a little shorthanded but is better off a limited specialist on the fourth line. Where one expects he'll be for Chicago.
Here's Handzus, speaking to the Chicago Tribune:
"I’ve always been a two-way player," Handzus said. "I kill penalties and if I have a chance I can play power play. It's an all-around game. It’s been that way my whole career.I’ll try to just fit in any way I can."