Why Not Michal Rozsival?

If the Edmonton Oilers are having difficulty bolstering their blue line via trade, is there any reason for them not to talk to free agent defenseman Michal Rozsival?

Rozsival is a good fit for the Oilers’ top four in a few ways. He played that role last season for the Phoenix Coyotes – including in the playoffs, as the team advanced to the Western Conference Finals – and has a nice, well-rounded game. He has a hard (and right-handed) shot – though he didn’t get any power play time in Phoenix last season – a good outlet pass, and a conscientious two-way game. He’s not the fastest skater in the world but he’s sound enough positionally to make up for it. He’s not overly physical but does engage, and he’s not overly big but is certainly big enough (6’1”, 212lbs).

Last season, Rozsival saw second-pairing opposition and lots of time in the defensive zone. Despite the tougher minutes, he fared pretty well. He’s done much the same throughout his career – since the lockout, he’s a cumulative plus-55, and has only been a minus player in one of those seasons; more advanced statistical measures show much the same performance year-over-year. There’s also at least some chance that he outperforms next season – an injury in his first game of the year cost him the season’s first two months.

For the Oilers, Rozsival could fill in on virtually any pairing. With a pair of younger players – Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz – slated for big minutes on the right side, Rozsival’s dependability and versatility make him an excellent option. He can handle heavy minutes on even-strength and on the penalty kill, and while he wasn’t used on the power play last season he has had success in a secondary role in those situations since the lockout.

What would a contract look like? The money isn’t likely to be a problem – even in the current climate, he seems like a good bet to go for $3.0 million or less and at 34 it’s hard to imagine teams are lining up to offer him term. He’s not a long-term solution, but as a stopgap until the younger players are a little more proven and the top prospects are a little more NHL-ready it’s tough to argue that he isn’t ideal.

The only real question is injury. Rozsival has missed some time the last few years after being highly durable earlier in his career, and he did take an ugly-looking knee-on-knee hit from Dustin Brown in the playoffs. Any team signing him would need to be confident that he’s either at or will be at 100% in time for training camp.

Personally, I think Rozsival’s well worth talking to, as long as he’s open to a) playing in Edmonton and b) a relatively short-term deal. Certainly the Oilers’ defense looks a lot better with Rozsival as the fifth defender, Whitney as the sixth and Sutton in the number seven slot than it does with Whitney and Sutton on the third pairing and Peckham/Potter as the reserve guy. He’d be an excellent safety net in case Petry stumbles, Justin Schultz isn’t quite as good as advertised as a rookie, or Whitney isn’t completely healthy.

Not only that, but Rozsival can be expected to have a similar short-term impact to that of a player like Niklas Hjalmarsson, and the Oilers wouldn’t need to send away anything to get him. The extra bodies on the team – guys like Omark, Peckham and Potter – can either be shopped for draft picks, or in the worst-case scenario put on waivers when the season starts.

This week by Jonathan Willis

    • billylikestodrinksoda

      Cause you would have to give up the following and I would assume the offer sheet would have to be above 7.835 for nashville not to match

      6,268,175 — $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third
      $7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks

  • “Why do I keep seeing Ryan Whitney’s name being thrown about as “third pairing” or “#6″… seriously?

    When he’s healthy, which by the end of the season, it certainly appeared he was on the way to being, he’s undoubtedly top 2 on this roster.”

    You see it because some people were pissed when Whitney was acquired for the beloved Lubomir Visnovsky and they remain so as he plays out his declining years on Long Island after being traded for a draft pick.

    Whitney, on one leg, is a second-pairing player in this bunch. If he’s healthy, he’s the best of the group.

    • He did look worlds better playing with Schultz than he did in the early going.

      But my assessment of Whitney has a lot to do with his play between October and February and nothing to do with Lubomir Vishnovsky. I was a Gilbert fan too, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find Nick Schultz to be an exemplary defenseman.

  • derrickhands

    Your reasoning is once again faulty Jonathan. If Petry or Whitney go down or don’t perform, you would think the Oilers would want a PMD. Then Rozsival has concussion issues and that in its self should be enough of a reason to back away. From the looks of things he might be a upgrade over N.Shultz, but not much and is he worth it, just for one year of service. You would think with a rebuilding team, they would give a spot to one of their prospects.

    • stevezie

      There is no such thing as a bad one year contract. I’d rather pay Roszival 4.5 for one year than 6 over two.

      I think recent Oilers history shows that developing prospects in the NHL is a good way to burn ELCs and not much else. We’ve got one rookie in the top 6, I think that’s as many as we want.

      Maybe you see it differently (many do), but I think prospects are best developed by being put in a position to succeed in lesser leagues.

  • stevezie

    The only upside to choosing Klefbom over Roszival for this season is it would save money. Roszival is almost certainly a better defenceman now, and it is in the team’s interest to maximize Kelfbom’s ELC. Rozi over Klefbom is in our long and short term interests.

    Seriously Quicksilver, even if he is “fine” he probably won’t be “good”. What is the advantage?

    I like Katz just fine, but I don’t care about spending his money. At all.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Rozsival could likely be a top 2 dman on the Oilers. There are so many question marks on this d it is not even funny. Whitney’s health, Petry sustained development, what is J. Schultz. Who is the 3rd right dman, LH N. Schultz, will Sutton be hurt/suspended all season?

    For all the talk by Tambo and Co. about raising expectations, not talking to a guy like Rozsival would be a huge mistake.

    There is no downside to signing Rozsival to $3mm for 2 years if this team has any playoff aspirations this season. Let Klefbom get some big minutes in the SEL instead of trial by fire on the 3rd pairing.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If all you detractors were lined up on the bench, i’d swing my Gucci knockoff manpurse across the top of all your helmets.

    Throw him in the deep end, he’ll be fine.

    • billylikestodrinksoda

      This isn’t Hall or Nugent-Hopkins or Yakupov.

      How can you say something like that if he has never even been thrown into the deep end in the SEL?

      Let the kid prove himself in lesser leagues first or else the chance of him losing all confidence and becoming a staple on Färjestad’s top 6 at the age of 25 increase significantly

  • MJM

    Why do I keep seeing Ryan Whitney’s name being thrown about as “third pairing” or “#6″… seriously?

    When he’s healthy, which by the end of the season, it certainly appeared he was on the way to being, he’s undoubtedly top 2 on this roster.

    • billylikestodrinksoda

      Because we have no indication he will ever be 100% of what he used to be. He’s even said it himself in interviews.

      Mobility was a huge issue for him last year and a strong management group wouldn’t count on him being healthy.

      That has always been my main issue with current management. They never have a backup plan or an insurance policy. In a way they always have a mindset of an optimistic fan, believing, “well if everything goes right, we will be okay”

      I believe as management in the NHL you almost need to always assume the worst outcome and plan accordingly with as much NHL depth as possible. Unfortunately, the Oilers havn’t done that since ’06.

      • @billylikestodrinksoda
        Its just this way of thinking that has gotten this team the #1 pick 3 years in a row… Now with the current lineup they are likely even with standard injury season to finish about 10-12th in the West and out of the lottery. I suspect management is just fine with this incremental improvement as the development continues. We wouldn’t want to add another piece on D only to take us out of a top 10 pick next year do we? 😉

        All joking aside I think unless someone comes along and offers a cant lose offer on a 25-30 yr old 1st or 2nd pairing D… for Hemsky and or Gagner and spare parts they will stand pat. My guess is the hope is Hemsky stays healthy til this seasons trade deadline and raises his value to a level where trading him is going to bring a valuable asset back.

        • billylikestodrinksoda

          Haha yeah very true.

          Yeah even a 4/5 dman like Sekera in Buffalo would appease me. Lets see what Petry develops into this year and watch our assets grow in value.

          I’d rather have stop gaps for a year or 2 until we know what we have with this group and then make a trade for a number 1 dman accordingly

  • Neilio

    I’d take him as a stop gap to buy time until some of our younger guys are ready. Worst case, somebody will want him at the deadline and we pick up a third round pick for him or something.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @ Jay Dubya

    If you could get him for only one yr then yes. He’s probably looking for multi yrs. It’s the second and third yr of that deal that could bite the Oilers in the arse.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @ Speeds

    What about Edmonton doesn’t scream developing team in progress Speeds? The first overall selection 3 yrs in a row, it’s not like he’d be in over his head with the modest expectations here.

    2/3rds of the teams in this league are in this developmental category. Too many teams and not enough talent to go around has put all too many teams there. Oscar hopefully has a bright future ahead of him. He just needs some confidence in his abilities that match the potential many believe he has.

    • stevezie

      The Oilers don’t need to rush him because they are still in the development stage.

      They have talked about the importance of a slow and steady path for the guys that need it, the DET model, etc. The DET model doesn’t include putting a 19 year old D into the NHL when it’s pretty unlikely he’d be more than a marginal upgrade, at best, over what you already have.

  • stevezie

    Man do I agree with this. Even if Hjalmarsson was a free agent I’d still prefer Roszival. Given the choice I’d rather pay him an extra million to take a one year deal, but I’d be open to two.

    For salary reasons it might be nicer to trade three spare parts for his equivilant, but what team wants three guys who can’t make the Oilers?

    Even if you don’t like this player, you admit he’s an NHL d-man, right? We need one more of those.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I like this idea a lot. Instead of complaining at the end of the year that we were decimated by injuries, why not bring in some veteran cover and build in some rendundancy on the blue line?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Throw him onto the pile of 3-7 d’men that are already here.

    Is there really a reward to signing Rozsival? I’d rather gamble that Klefbom could be better than Rosey the second half of the coming yr.

    • billylikestodrinksoda

      hes at worst a 6 on this team and is ahead of sutton, peckham, potter, and teubert by leaps and bounds in my estimation.

      A top 6 of smid-petry, schultz jr+sr, whitney-rozsival is a substantial upgrade from anything last year

      We need stop gaps like rozsival before just giving roster spots to young D such as klefbom.

      He needs another year of development, whether thats SEL or AHL, I don’t care but I am not comfortable assuming he deserves a top 6 role when he hasn’t dominated the SEL and he looked good at a development camp for 18-23 year olds

      And speeds is bang on. Why waste a year of his contract playing 10 minutes a night or sitting in the pressbox.

      Let him dominate or at least stand out in the lower leagues before granting him an NHL job

    • The thing about Rozsival is that he’s much more of a sure thing than Klefbom, J. Schultz and the like.

      The Oilers are already gambling on youth (Petry, J. Schultz) and health (Whitney) – why not reduce the risk if you can do it cheaply?

    • billylikestodrinksoda

      Signing Rozsival would also mean you could send Klefbom back to the SEL for another year, and delay his contract a year, which will prove pretty useful 3 years from now if Klefbom develops as hoped.