The Oilers could have used a whole lotta Rosie, that is Michael Rozsival. The thirty four year old defencemen finally signed, inking a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Reportedly the deal is for one year at two million dollars. Good deal for the Hawks and the Oilers lost out.
Rozsival is a steady defencemen. His offensive output isn’t incredible yet he moves the puck well. Making a good first pass to the talented top six is a priority for the Oilers d-men and Rozsival is very good at it. While playing with the New York Rangers, Rozsival was on the ice a lot with Jaromir Jagr. Nobody wants the puck like Jagr, Rozsival understood that and got him the puck. The same plan should be put together for Hall, Eberle and company.
Not known for being super physical, Rozsival is a decent penalty killer and can work the point on the power play. His right-handed shot would have been a nice addition to a group that has only two righties currently in the unit.
His ice time per game was all over the place last season with Phoenix. He topped out at over twenty eight minutes one night. Not too shabby! I am not suggesting that he would have come in here and be the savior on the blueline, but it would have been nice to add him in case that type of effort was required at some point in the season.
The Oilers Blue
It is clear the Oilers top five will be Whitney, Smid, Petry, J. Schultz and N. Schultz. If they stay healthy and they all perform up to their abilities this is a pretty solid unit. If there are injury issues, as the team has had over the last few years, I believe the group will suffer due to the lack of puck-moving depth on the blue line.
Lets say both Whitney and Smid get knocked out of action for four weeks at the same time. They are both guys who will be playing north of twenty minutes this winter. Who takes their spots?
I think bringing Justin Schultz along slowly is the smart thing to do. Rushing into twenty minute plus playing time would be a mistake. Let him get comfortable at the fifteen minute level for an extended period of time. Some nights he will go higher due to a lot of power play time, but I wouldn’t want to press him into twenty minutes all year.
If the team decides to be cautious with Justin that leaves three other Defencemen to pick up the extra minutes when injuries occur in the top four. Andy Sutton, Theo Peckham and Corey Potter. HHHMMM? Capable players in the role of a five or six dman but can the Oilers be successful with them playing in the top four for a prolonged amount of time? I don’t want to find out.
Rozsival would have been a perfect fit to slide in and eat up extra minutes when required. When everyone is healthy you can put him in the press box and let the bruisers get in there and bang away.
A team can never have too much top four depth or top four fillers. This issue needs to be addressed because once the season does start it will be to late. Players like Rozsival are not given up easily.