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

  • misfit

    Klefbom definitely in the SEL this season. The question is do we go into this season with Ryan Whitney? UFA at the end of the season. Question of health? Kieth Yandle I would go after hard. Pheonix appears to need/want reduce its payroll. How good would Yandle look on Edmonton’s first pairing with Petry. With the lack of top 4 d on the market Whitney’s value increases. I would trade him and then target Yandle . Columbus has d. They need top 6 forwards that can score and have skill. I really think that if we were to offer MP and Lander to Columbus we could have Ryan Murray. They could use MP to compliment RJ.lANDER would fit right in on thier 3rd line. We can’t go into next season hoping Whitney is going to be the player he was previous to his surgery. Let someone else gamble on his ankles/feet.

  • misfit

    Quicksilver:

    how many WJC allstar dmen have confidence issues.

    Suter, Doughty, phanuef, petrangelo, Subban, johson, Letang, Carlson, Orlov, Karlsson, Hedman.

    klefbom looked real soft in the video of him at shooting and fighting camp in sweden.

  • DoubleJ

    RB: whitney was a 5-6 last year.
    two years ago he was a #1.

    Some people will think he was a 6 still is a six.

    He showed slight progression defensively at the end of the season.
    offesively he was back at his 50Pt season pace.

    I hope he can handle the lower 2nd to 3rd comp. while still being that good ofensively. it would be nice to have rozival. So that we have our #3-#6 dmen all capable of 2nd line comp.

    Cause it was brutal watching #5-#10 dmen having to face 2nd comp last year.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @Rickithebear

    I’m just impatient as heck and frustrated Ricki. Once a month i seem to struggle with these issues. It rides over me like a wave.

    Been a tough go these last 3 yrs. Hope that light at the end of the tunnel isn’t just another freight train. I should be okay now for a couple weeks, i think.

  • Wax Man Riley

    What about Scott Hannan? I remember last November-ish, some commenters were up in arms because he signed with Calgary, when EDM could have had him. He was the cure to what ails the Oil’s D last year.

    Scott who? Exactly.

    I think any extra depth, especially a veteran, plus player. However, he hasn’t played anywhere close to a full season for 3 years. has he been a #7 scratch? Or injury issues?

  • DoubleJ

    I’m all for signing Rosival. What I don’t understand is how everyone thinks Whitney is going to be in the bottom 6?
    Whitney is the best D-man and will be our best d-man next year. He was coming off surgury and started hafeway through the season. I don’t understand how you guys think he’s going to be so bad.
    He has a full off season to get into playing shape this summer. I hope he’s in the top two this season.

  • DoubleJ

    I honestly feel that unless we get a top two defenseman we stop looking at this position.

    Ralph will have enough defenseman and I believe that Whitney will have a bounce back season as will Potter. Potter will be more prepared for playing this season, and the way he started out tells me he is ready for tougher assignments………he did have a tough go coming back from his injury later in the season, but not too many players come back full tilt any ways.

    Webber or nothing. We need a centerman!!!!!!

  • DoubleJ

    MJM,

    Most people saw that Whitney could not pivot, and was getting beating wide fairly regularly. His footspeed once he was beaten was bad. His puck retrieval and puck moving ability were greatly limited due to a loss in footspeed, which made alot of people access that hes no longer a top two, and possibly not a top four.
    Hes not what he once was, and we all hope he returns to the level he was before the ankle started to give him trouble.

  • DoubleJ

    Besides the fact Pheonix has great dman prospect depth, why would they trade Yandle. They are well below the cap. Do the Oilers actually have any pieced they might actually want that are not untouchable.

    There are some teams out there that are well below the cap. I wonder in a dream world senario a team taking on the Horcoff contract might happen justso they can reach the cap floor. What would the Oilers contigency plan be if Horcoff was gone…

  • DoubleJ

    A few possibilitiesa as to why not.

    1) they have made an offer, but the agents wanted to see what happens with Suter so teams who don’t get him will want to put in more $.

    2) the guy does not want to come to edmonton for the terms they are offering.

    3) Edmonton would rather try to find something more long term in a trade scenario

    4) Edmonton is waiting him out to drive term and $ down.

    5) They would rather go with what they have on the D.

    6) They are targeting someone else via free agency and waiting things out. (See 1 and 4)

  • DoubleJ

    @Smokey. My thoughts exactly. Yes players rebound. But with Whitney a pending UFA and a question mark attached to his health don’t you think it would behoove the Oilers to listen to offers for Whitney right now. When the market is tight and dmen at a premium?

    With pressure on the Yotes to reduce payroll to absolute minimum I would think that there is a trading partner who would/ could use a frontline player like Hemsky in place of Yandle. They have Gormley on the rise and it would make sense for them to move a piece like Yandle for scoring upfront. Whitney is gone. Doan soon will be. Where are the goals going to becoming from?

    Pheonix has issue that we all are aware of. Will they resolve by July 9th? Think not. Goldwater is going to the wall and rightly so to protect the tax payer against the insanity that pervades the councilors of Glendale. They have a deal at all costs attitude. The fact the Yotes lose truckloads of money every season does not faze them.Its insane.

    If I am Tambo I put pressure on Pheonix and Yandle will be in Oilers silk sooner than later.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination to Follow

    Great article, this is the exact type of signing that would help shore up the team without losing any skill upfront.

    Would love to see the Oilers sign him and possibly still trade to get one more 3/4 guy.