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Blackhawks Fri Apr 05 2013

The Skinny On New Blackhawks Center Michal Handzus

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThis week, the Chicago Blackhawks brought San Jose Sharks centerman Michal Handzus into the fold. Most fans wanted more of a splash, but the acquisition helps the team in several areas. Size, depth, and experience were a few of the things that helped the team to a Stanley Cup win a few seasons ago, and Handzus can provide all three -- some of which was on display during last night's game vs. St. Louis.

Most fans might remember him from an eight game stint with the team during the 2006-2007 season. He's the type of player the team needs at this point in the season. The Hawks have struggled all year in the face-off department, and Handzus immediately becomes the team's second best center in terms of faceoff percentage this season (won 165-of-297 -- good for 55.6%).

Handzus will also help out on the penalty kill. It's no secret that Dave Bolland has struggled in the second line center position this season. Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw, two players short on experience, were primarily used as the third and fourth line center, and a veteran like Handzus can alleviate some of the pressure.

Handzus, 36, has recorded 461 points (180G, 281A) in 939 career NHL games with St. Louis, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Jose. He has appeared in 74 Stanley Cup Playoff games, posting 32 points (11G, 21A). He has just two points (1G, 1A) in 27 games with the Sharks this season, so he probably shouldn't be looked upon to carry much of the load to put the puck in the net.

The Hockey News' scouting report says this about the newest Blackhawk:

Strenghts: Can be an effective shutdown center. Is a load to line up against at 6-5, 215 pounds. Plays solid defense and is also a capable playmaker. Excellent on face-offs, he can score timely goals.

Flaws: Lacks speed. Isn't very aggressive for a player with such an imposing frame. Unfortunately, he never reached his full potential on offense. Is declining in all facets of the game in the NHL.

Back when the team traded for Handzus the first time in 2006, general manager Dale Tallon said this about him:

"In Michal Handzus, we were able to acquire a big, strong center who is an excellent two-way player," said Tallon. "We felt we needed a big centerman to play against other big centers in the Western Conference."

Handzus also recognizes that things are different this time around. He notices the buzz surrounding the team. He told Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Mark Lazerus about what has changed since the first time around.

"It's totally different. I remember 10,000 people in the stands."

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