Player Profile: Milan Michalek

Milan Michalek, LW, Contract: 4.333,333/14 (UFA) T 2009 (Murray)
6’2, Shoots L, YOB 1984, Jindrichuv, Cze
2008-09 NHL San Jose 77-23-34-57 (ppg 0.74) +11 52pim TOI 18:27
2009-10 NHL Ottawa 66-22-12-34 (ppg 0.51) -12 18pim TOI 18:15
2010-11 NHL Ottawa 66-18-15-33 (ppg 0.50) -12 49pim (1 fight) TOI 18:03
2011-12 NHL Ottawa 77-35-25-60 (ppg 0.77) +4 32pim TOI 19:33

Michalek is the last remaining piece of the Dany Heatley trade.  The big power forward had just completed the first year of his new deal with San Jose when he was packaged with Jonathan Cheechoo and San Jose’s 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft (subsequently moved to Carolina as part of the Matt Cullen deal).  Michalek was the centerpiece of the trade, as Cheechoo‘s declining production and injuries made him at best a project.

Michalek‘s first year with Ottawa was injury-plagued.  He was expected to match or improve on his totals in San Jose the year before (look along the panels on the right hand side of ESPN’s preview), but despite getting off to a hot start he slumped when Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson were out of the lineup before suffering a series of injuries which culminated in being knocked out of Ottawa’s playoff series against Pittsburgh (tearing his ACL).  Overall it was a disappointing season for Michalek, with the lowest point total of his NHL career (he also carried the second worst plus/minus on the team behind Cheechoo).

In the off-season he recovered from surgery and started the season with the team.  Expectations were that he would improve on last year’s totals, but just like the previous season he missed significant time and put up mediocre numbers.  This past season was Michalek was able to stay healthy and put up career numbers (don’t let the word “career” seem significant, as it’s 3 higher than his best season in San Jose).  He was also a plus player for the first time as a Senator.

Michalek came to the team advertised as a strong, two-way player with upside.  Through three seasons he’s a combined -20 and there has been no upside at all.  He doesn’t make the players around him better.  I’m not saying Michalek isn’t a good player, because he is, but he simply isn’t as advertised.  Ideally he’s a second line player, but with the Sens depth he is forced into playing on the first line.  In a full-season where Michalek stays health I’d expect him to produce 50-55 points, but it’s unlikely that he’ll have back-to-back healthy campaigns.

Here’s Michalek scoring a hat trick