Player evaluation: Handzus

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MICHAL HANDZUS

This season: 82 games, 7 goals, 14 assists, minus-21 rating.

Positives: A year after major knee surgery, Handzus played all 82 games, which is a tremendous accomplishment and no doubt gave him a good mental boost. Later in the season, he seemed to be skating harder and with more confidence. Despite his offensive struggles, Handzus earned the respect of coaches and management with his good attitude.

Negatives: For $4 million, Handzus was a mess. The Kings signed him to be a second-line center, but for parts of the season he was centering the fourth line. He seemed slow and tentative for a major part of the season, not surprising for a player in his first season following knee surgery. His play left a huge void in that No. 2 center position.

Looking ahead: Four years is a long time, and $16 million is a lot of money. The good news is, players usually take a big step forward in their second year following knee surgery. If Handzus can improve, and reclaim that No. 2 center spot, it will go a long way toward establishing some much-needed depth in the lineup. If not, things could get ugly.

Contract situation: Signed through 2010-11 (cap number of $4 million next season).

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  • anthony

    Terrible signing.
    After the McCauley debacle, I don’t know why DL would sign another player with a bad knee.

    Unfortunately, we’re stuck with him.
    We have to get used to the fact that he’s going nowhere.
    We have to get used to the fact that we stiil have to waste another $12 Million on him. (I’m dying here)
    We have to get used to fact we’re stuck with him for another 3 years. No team is stupid enough to take his contract. Plus, our brilliant GM gave him a no trade clause.
    Bite the bullet guys.

  • ian

    anthony have you ever actually played hockey?

    zues will rebound and re-establish himself as the dominate 2-way center he was known as before the injury.

  • Gord

    I like this guy, I just wish he’d get it together.

  • jkwondachef

    Yeah anthony. Do you even play hockey? It seems like all the posts you leave are filled with some type of ingnorance to the game. The name calling, the off the wall comments. What’s up with that? Handzus had a bad season no doubt about it. The knee injury really was a bummer too. This guy can play as a good #2-B, #3 center in a defensive shut down role. At 4 mil it was a bit much but, look at the whole picture. Who was really going to come to this team in the current condition we’re in? He’ll play better next season. Knee injury’s usually take about a year to overcome.

  • PSP

    A couple of you guys need to buy a clue. The Handzus signing was HORRIBLE. According to the reports on Satellite Hotstove, he had NO OTHER OFFERS. You don’t sign a guy coming off of a major knee injury to a long term, big money contract. Say what you want, but there are NO GUARANTEES that he will EVER come back like he was. Even Boyle produced half the points in a total of 8 games in his first NHL action for less than a quarter of the price!

    Just say NO! to old, injured players – it’s just not worth the risk.

  • Mr. Fabulous

    I have no doubt Handzus aggravated that knee injury falling off his chair after Lombardi offered him that contract last July. Deano swings…and misses. Big time.

    P.S. Since when has playing hockey become a requirement for being a fan and having an opinion?

  • lakingzfan

    hanzus should have a bounce back year. otherwise im afraid that anthony may be right (hockey gods save us)!
    We dont relly need him to score, but he has to be at least an even player against the oppositions top line

  • DellaNooch

    Whether or not this was a bad signing will be determined next year. DL did take a risk on Handzus and no one should have expected him to have a monster year after that injury, its standard in all sports. I hope he comes back strong next year…and if you need an example of why a risk on a good player coming off knee surgery is worth a try, well ask Brian Burke, who signed Teemu Selanne following the lock out. Everyone said he was washed up having work done to both his knees…Burke took a risk, found his leading scorer and has a Stanley Cup ring as a result.

  • Jon G

    Handzus has always been pretty slow, so I don’t think you can blame that on the knee injury. I recall that he used to be much stronger on the puck than he was this season. That’s where I’ll be looking for improvement in the next three (gulp!) seasons.

  • Moondoggie

    I feel bad for Michal, I really do. He’s a fierce competitor, his biggest critic is himself. He’s a leader and no one felt worse about his play than he did.

    The upside? Knee injuries take time to heal, about a year if I’m not mistaken. There is only so much trainers can do with them, the rest is all about time. Michal will be working it this summer. Expect a much better season for 08-09, he’ll be stronger and will come back to that 2nd line center form we expected. Michal had flashes towards the end of this season and should be far more consistant next year. I truly wish him and hope for the best…..

  • KingFan4ever

    The jury’s still out for me as far as Handzus is concerned. I remember when he was playing for Phoenix (with Nagy) he was pretty effective and skated well.

    This year watching him at Staples especially early in the season, he looked like he was really stiff and his skating stroke was not fluid at all.

    No doubt the Kings are stuck with his contract but his work ethic seems to be stellar and his teammates have nothing but good things to say about him. I’m sure he knows more is expected of him next season.

  • PSP

    DellaNooch, the differences between Burke signing Selanne and Lombardi signing Handzus are staggering, but here are the two that should really stand out for you:

    1. Selanne was signed 17 months after major reconstructive knee surgery. Handzus was signed 8 months after major reconstructive knee surgery.

    2. Selanne was signed to a 1 year $1 million dollar contract. Handzus was signed to a 4 year $16 million dollar no trade contract.

    Which sounds like a wise hockey and business move and which sounds like the GM was out of his mind?

  • Vahe

    Zus…Let the hair grow, have you ever heard of Samson?

  • scooter

    Actually playing the game provides a perspective not only of what is going on during the game, on the ice, but also on what takes place to actually put specific guys on the ice. People like Anthony only see the goals, or missed goals or a bad shift on defence. Playing the game you understand that this is all part of a bigger picture and you can’t simply judge a player based on one game or one missed assignment. Handzus was a gamble but based on his career, his success and the “type” of player he is and will again become, he was a good fit for this club. Sure the contract was too much but sometimes you have to make this type of commitment to a player so that he has the incentive to come back strong from an injury and not have to worry about a contract right away. I know the Kings expected more from him but they also know that his play this year is not typical Handzus. Knee injuries are tricky and always on the back of players minds – one more hit could be the last and in some cases it is. However, if given time to heal, build strength without the immediate threat of a contract, Handzus will be a much better player for us.

  • dondon81

    I liked Zus’s play in the last third of the season. He was taking the body more and more and was much more consistent. He’s only just turned 31 and has a good reputation in the past, so I think he can turn it around still.

    Beginning this season, he was coming off surgery, thrust into a 2nd Center role on a new team and did have good chemistry with Calder and Nagy early on, before consequently they both got hurt. I think that contributed to the problems as well.

  • jeremy

    you ABSOLUTELY can’t compare handzus to selanne and use that to justify his contract.

    Look at Michal’s numbers, his highest point total is 58 in 03-04 (yes, the last year of the “old”nhl).

    I realize he’s here to be a two-way player, but without the clutch-and-grab style of play, he just cant keep up with the speed of the talented, quick nhl players.

  • jeremy

    “Handzus was a gamble but based on his career, his success and the “type” of player he is and will again become, he was a good fit for this club.”

    Scooter, unless you are jim fox or darryl evans, dont talk to us like we are hockey retarded, this team finished 29th…again, so obviouly these pieces aren’t working. If you want him for your men’s team, by all means take him off our hands.

    And what makes you think he’ll bounce back 2 years after the surgery?? Do i need to remind you about dan cloutier’s knee injury?? Looks like he bounced back well in year 2 huh????

    Unbelievable

  • joey

    he couldnt produce on a line w/kopitar, he’s just plain garbage.

  • nykingfan

    I thought he was the biggest disappointment offensively on the team this year. He was the reason that Army was forced to be a 2nd line center. He played a 3rd line center but has no physical presence on the ice. That’s what a 3rd line center should have.
    If it was because of the knee injury..fine! But he better rebound this year and prove he’s a 2nd line center because if not, we’re in for another tough year. I think he is the biggest key offensively for the upcoming season.

  • Mark

    Is it just me or does Crawford’s coaching stink to high heaven? Craig Conroy was a key part of the team when Andy Murray was coaching but under Crawford’s control he was demoted to 4th line…Handzus has shown that he is able to be an effective player but under Crawford’s rank he’s 4th line. Also how does Armstrong become a 2nd line center?

  • JDM

    “Zus…Let the hair grow, have you ever heard of Samson?”

    Vahe, you couldn’t be more right!

    I’ve been saying this all season, he’s nothing without his hair. Why doesn’t he realize this in such a superstiscious sport. If anything, the hockey gods spite him for cutting it as he was one of the last hold outs with great hockey hair. Even Barney Rubble (aka Jim Fox) pointed it out a few times.

    You’ve got all summer ‘Zus, let the locks grow!

  • Jimmy Crack Corn

    PSP hit the nail on the head. All those claiming ” Handzus will have a bounce back season” make me laugh. Seriously, could he have had a worse season? Up is the only place to go. You don’t sign a guy 4 mil for 4 yrs so he’ll be motivated to rehab a wounded knee.
    I read A LOT more criticism on here about Cammellari who makes less $$ and scored almost 3x the goals. Handzus has a long way to bounce.

  • DellaNooch

    Jeremy – Dan Cloutier just isn’t a good goalie, don’t use him as a comparsion for the knee injury arguement. Canuck fans wanted him out when they were winning before his injuries. Pick a better example.

    PSP-

    Let me give you a couple more stats to consider for your question of a wise hockey decision vs. out of his mind deal:

    Selanne was 35 years old when Burke signed him after those 17 months of recovery as well as 17 months removed from professional hockey, his previous season he put up 32 points in 78 games (keep in mind he lost a whole season to the lockout) and his numbers had been in decline for years (Handzus actually outscored him pre-lockout), despite the fact he played on good teams.

    Handzus, 30 years old, known more as a solid two way player and penalty killer, has consistently been a plus rated player and chipped in 40-58 points a season as a second or third line center. His best season still might be in front of him. Hes a good veteran present on a very young team and was well liked on his previous teams.

    If Selanne didnt play well in that one year, we would have all said, I told you so, and Burke would have looked like an idiot for signing a guy that was considered washed up. However, Selanne did play great in that one year; and since he wakes up to a duck whistle every morning, he signed on with ANA again despite the fact he could have easily left for more money. Imagine if the Sharks signed him again, does ANA win the cup last year? No way. So there was clearly a risk in signing him to just a one year deal.

    Handzus, on the other hand, has at least 5 years left in his career and has been a proven NHLer prior to his injury, so here are your choices when signing him last summer:
    1 year deal Its a comeback year, doesnt play as well as any year in his career. Leaves the Kings for Anaheim, where he becomes a solid second line center and puts up big numbersa stupid move signing him to a Selanne-esque contract only to watch him leave.
    2 year deal He struggles his first year, becomes a solid second line center in his second year, after much haggling, the Kings sign him to a 3 year extension at 5-6 million a season or he leaves to another team and you’re looking for another second line center again.
    3 year deal He struggles the first year, plays well the second and third year. Try to extent him or resign him This would have been optimal
    4 year deal Struggles his first year, then puts up 3 good years. Players comparable to him are making 5-6 million a season. Perceived as a brilliant move by DL

    It is a bigger risk than Selanne with the 4th year and NTC, I agree with you there; but dont say the Selanne deal was a wise choice because you have hindsight on your side as well as, dont rush to judgement stating DL is out of his mind because he took a risk on a player, that many experts agree, wont be 100% until next season, thus should be judged then.

    Well know how this pans out next season, maybe youre right, maybe not, time will tell.

  • PSP

    DellaNooch, you missed the most obvious scenario:

    4 year deal – Struggles his first year, then struggles his next season even though completely healed because the speed of the new NHL is too much for him to overcome. Struggles for the first half of the 3rd season, then blows out his shoulder or knee again. Bought out of the 4th season.

    Don’t get me wrong – I think he is putting in the effort and is trying as hard as he can, but knee injuries will slow you down. He wasn’t fast to begin with, so his lack of speed becomes more and more of an issue.

  • metalmaster

    If you do the research on this signing there was not
    a big market for Handzus.
    Exactly which other teams
    was DL bidding against?
    Same as with the Cloutier extension not exactly a
    market for him. Bad moves
    both. Good Gm’s make bad
    moves too. Holland traded
    for bertuzzi and gave up too much. If DL is as smart
    as some up here think he
    will do something to make up for these two bonehead
    moves.

  • jofa6000

    Mr. Fabulous – people make stupid coments without understanding the phisycal aspects of the game.
    u dont have to play a sport to like it, but to make stupid coment about players returning from injuries and saying they suck is typical of people who dont know the game.

  • DellaNooch

    PSP – Your example is not the most obvious or obvious at all, its just plain negative, but I’ll be sure to remind you of it if Handzus rebounds this season
    Either way, DL was not factoring your completely ridiculous scenario into the equation when he made the signing and for good reasonhowever, if you can read the future and this becomes true, then you have my vote for GM of the Kings.

    MetalMaster – could you provide a link or story to support your theory that their wasnt much interest in Handzus? If you can, then youre right, it was obviously a bad contract for DL to agree to. I cant find any information on it, so Im curious to know if this is just your opinion.

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