Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman talked of bolstering center depth around the trade deadline. On Monday, he did that.
The Blackhawks acquired veteran center Michal Handzus in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Handzus, who was in his second season with the Sharks, has just two points with them this season. Bowman said tonight that Handzus fills some needs at that position.
“We talked for a while about our desire to get bigger and have a center man,” he said. “Looking at our team right now, been happy with how the young players have played, particularly (Marcus) Kruger and (Andrew) Shaw. But when you get to the playoff time it’s good to have some experience and depth at center. Michal accomplishes all of those – and on faceoffs, as well. That’s an area we’ve tried to get better at.”
Handzus, who waived his no-trade clause to come to the Blackhawks, said he’s flying to Chicago on Tuesday and will be ready for practice on Wednesday. He’s ready for the opportunity.
“They're a great team and they're up there in the standings so that's one thing. The other thing is I know the coaching staff. I played for Joel (Quenneville) and I know the guys,” Handzus said. “The main thing is they're a great team, and I wanted to go to the best team I can.”
The 36-year-old Handzus does bring a big body and solid faceoff numbers. Here’s how he’s done the past five seasons:
|Season||Faceoffs won||Total faceoffs||Percentage|
Where exactly Handzus fits into the lineup is uncertain. Bowman, who pointed often to Handzus’ size, said he’ll leave that up to the Blackhawks’ coaching staff.
“Hopefully we'll be healthy soon here, and it's just nice having that option,” Bowman said. “Handzus gives us a couple different looks. His size is something we like, as well. You get into a playoff series, it's nice to know you have the big guy in the middle there to match up against. There are some big centers in the West, guys that are hard to contain. Not only is he big, but he's proven that he can do that in the past. He's been a high-profile player for a number of years and we know him from having had him before even though it was a short stint. We know his character and his motivation and his drive. He's a great teammate, he's a competitive guy.”
San Jose general manager Doug Wilson wished Handzus the best.
“Michal has been a tremendous veteran presence for our hockey club the last two seasons on and off the ice, especially in helping our younger players understand how to be a professional,” said Wilson in a statement. “We wish all the best to Michal and his family and thank him for all his contributions in his time here.”