Staff Report Cards: Michal Handzus

The White Walker in the red sweater.

All situations
5 on 5 on-ice
5 on 5
CF% rel
GF% rel
ZS% rel
Regular Season 59 4 12 16 13.4 3.7 8.00% 0 51.80% -4.20% 45.00% -13.00% 5.40% 92.20% 97.6 60.70% 7.40% 21.90% 1.30% 48.00% 28.00% 30.00%
Playoffs 19 2 1 3 12.2 2.2 22.20% 0 36.30% -15.40% 20.00% -36.70% 4.80% 89.30% 94.1 42.60% -12.50% 18.10% 0.60% 57.00% 28.20% 29.80%

In the beer soaked aftermath of the 2013 Stanley Cup victory, the front office decided to try and squeeze one more year of life out of Michal Handzus, re-signing the vet for 1 year, $1 million. The idea being he could be an insurance policy at the bottom of the roster if every other plan down the middle went belly up.

Regular Season

Of course, that theory went out the window when Brandon Pirri got hurt in training camp and didn't make the squad. Handzus shot up the depth chart, opening the year with Hossa and Sharp on his wings. Even upon Pirri’s quick return, Handzus remained the centerman of 2L. It became fairly obvious, fairly quickly, that he couldn't handle the assignment. After a December where Patrick Kane was named 1st Star of the Month by the NHL, and with roughly half the season under their belts, Kane had yet to score with Handzus on the ice at 5s. That is almost as mind boggling as people disliking the Toews/Kane extensions. For the duration of the season the tandem scored three times when on the ice at even strength together. Handzus was second among forwards (Saad) in time logged with Kane, so this is not a small sample size. A lot of this isn’t on him as he can only skate the shifts he’s asked to. This review should be about a guy that was a 4th liner/penalty killer/healthy scratch and not someone playing pivot for one of the most dynamic set of hands in the league. But we go by the facts and this chart from Jen is as damning as it gets. Handzus did good things. He was a critical part of solidifying the penalty kill after the turn of the calendar. He inspired the Handzus Ailments twitter account.


As the postseason rolled around, Handzus was relegated to the PK and the odd shift here and there. While he spent most of the time looking like an old man chasing a turtle, he did provide a highlight reel gamewinner against the Kings. The problems became more evident as the postseason wore on and he couldn’t do what he is purportedly good at. He was over 50% at the dot for only 8 of 19 contests. His lack of wheels made him a defensive liability and he continued to be a possession blackhole. For all his blocked shot prowess on the kill, a lot due to scrambling from being too slow to stay in position, his shorthanded TOI% waned in each series as the opponents got better. When the PK dried up against the Kings, so did any remaining iota of usefulness Handzus had in a Hawks sweater.

Future Considerations

Following the exit in the Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks noted that they would not be re-signing Handzus. The old warhorse will be forced to ply his trade elsewhere assuming anyone wants to take a flier on a 37 year old that can’t move anymore. However, teams do some crazy things like give John Scott money or trade for Brandon Bollig. Zus will probably catch on somewhere that "needs a winning influence from a veteran" or something. He can still add a bit to an NHL team that needs someone to occasionally win a draw and absorb pucks meatbagging on a second unit penalty kill. Don’t be surprised if an eastern conference team signs him to a pittance in the coming weeks. Happy trails, old buddy.

Tough to grade a guy that was asked to do things he had no business doing, but those are the breaks. Handzus gets a D.

What grade would you give Michal Handzus?