2011-12 San Jose Sharks: Michal Handzus Report Card

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIJune 6, 2012

2011-12 San Jose Sharks: Michal Handzus Report Card

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    The first free agent the San Jose Sharks signed last summer was Michal Handzus.

    With a two-year, $5 million contract, the 6'5", 215-pound centre was expected to anchor the third line and the penalty kill.

    By the playoffs, the 35-year-old Handzus, whose nickname matches the name of the most powerful of Greek gods, was relegated to watching games from the press box. He played in only two of the Sharks five playoff games, did not score and had an even rating.

    Since injuries did not seem to be a major factor, his lack of playing time have led some observers to view Handzus as the team's biggest free-agent bust.

    But is he?

    Here is the good, the bad and the ugly truth of Zeus' season.

The Good

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    Michal Handzus scored on over half of his shootout attempts, helping the San Jose Sharks to a 9-5 record in the skills competition, which awards its winner an extra point in the standings.

    Only Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston (all 9-3), New Jersey (12-4) and Colorado (9-2) did better.

    Zeus is a very good defensive player. He is also good with the puck, committing just 24 giveaways to 17 assists (fourth best ratio on San Jose) and 28 takeaways, while being strong in the faceoff circle.

    He also blocks shots (59) and accumulates an acceptable number of hits (52), resulting in a Defensive Quotient (defined at the link) of 29.72 in 67 games last season, good for seventh among Sharks forwards.

    Finally, the team's struggles on the PK cannot be blamed on Zeus.

    He was a great penalty-killing forward before coming to San Jose—just like Scott Nichol, Dominic Moore and Daniel Winnik were before they played in Todd McLellan's system.

The Bad

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    When Michal Handzus' skill in shootouts and making excuses for his ineffectiveness on the penalty kill fills out most of the good things he brings to the table, that speaks volumes on his ineffectiveness.

    The fact that he still was seventh among forwards in DQ speaks volumes on the San Jose Sharks checking lines.

    The reality is that even what Zeus did well was unimpressive.

    He was barely above even in the faceoff circle this season (50.7 percent), easily ranking last among the seven Sharks to take 200 or more draws. Defensively, he was behind a fourth-line player, when that was supposed to be his forte.

    All of this would be fine if he was producing offensively.

    However, tallying just 24 points in 67 games is inadequate for a player who has scored 20 goals multiple times. His Offensive Quotient of 19.24 was just 10th on the team and seventh among forwards.

The Ugly Truth

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    The reality is the San Jose Sharks would have been better off keeping Scott Nichol than signing Michal Handzus.

    Nichol provided less offensively but more defensively—and for less money.

    His tenacity was missed, and Zeus looks as close to retirement as Scotty. But it is unlikely a team is going to give much of anything in return for an aging player who now is really just another guy.

    Thus, the Sharks are better off hoping he bounces back. If not, they are better off bringing up one of the young forwards up from Worcester and seeing if he can produce more than Zeus.