33-Year-Old Left Wing – Free Agent
Milan Michalek Contract Information:
Signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Senators in July of 2014.
Michalek was placed on waivers by Toronto on Monday, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports.
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Milan Michalek: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There are two streams of thought when it comes to Michalek. The optimistic one says the dude is a sniper and can tickle the twine when paired with an offensive, playmaking center. The pessimistic one says he's done – a one trick pony who has not only been further slowed by injuries, but one whose hands have left him. We'll find out which one it is by November. Michalek will either skate on the Leafs' second line with Tyler Bozak as his pivot or flank Auston Matthews on the third. Bozak is a smart, right-handed shot, just like Michalek's old running mate, Jason Spezza. So, it's a situation that fits this Czech perfectly. But Matthews has elite vision and loads of experience playing with seasoned pros overseas. Either way, there's a strong chance Michalek will chug along at a 15-20 goal, 40-point pace and that makes him perfect fodder for a trade come deadline. Remember, the Buds are still in building mode. Michalek is a part of their present, but not their future.
Few NHL players have accomplished a Jekyll-and-Hyde act to the degree that Michalek has managed throughout his career. The Czech winger's scoring rate and plus/minus have been prone to wild swings, and they're currently on a downslope after he managed just 73 points in 148 games over the last two seasons. Michalek missed the end of the regular season last year with a concussion and made an ineffectual playoff return, netting just one point in six games. He's a third liner for the Sens now, with Clarke MacArthur and Mike Hoffman pretty well set to occupy the top two spots at left wing. Given that context, it's hard to imagine the return of Jekyll in Michalek's age-30 campaign.
Michalek's biggest downside in recent seasons was his inability to stay healthy, but that was not the case in 2013-14. The winger suited up for all 82 games for the Sens, but his production didn't reach the level we've seen from him in years past. With 17 goals, 22 assists, and a minus-25 rating, it's possible that the 29-year-old is starting to slow down after his recent knee problems. In the past, a lot of his output was generated because he played alongside Jason Spezza, but with the former Ottawa captain now in Dallas, Michalek will likely see his numbers dip even further. He's expected to skate alongside veteran pickup David Legwand, who represents a large downgrade from Spezza.
Sometimes when you get one player back, you really get two. While playing alongside Spezza, Michalek was massively productive in 2011-12, racking up 35 goals and 25 assists in 77 games. Last season Michalek battled through a knee injury of his own managing to suit up for 23 games, but only scored four goals while adding 10 assists. His production only improved with Spezza's late season return. With his knee now surgically repaired and assuming Spezza is healthy for the full season, Michalek could very well return to his 2011-12 form. Most fantasy owners will probably overlook Michalek after his 2013 scoring dip, so there's big-time potential to be had at a good value if Michalek is available a few rounds into the draft.
Michalek had a fantastic year last season, potting a career-high 35 goals and adding 25 assists in 77 games, his best season since being jettisoned from San Jose. He remained almost completely free of injuries for the first time in years as he only missed five games due to a concussion mid-season. Michalek will likely line up on the left side of Jason Spezza once again and play on the first power play unit with all-world blueliner Erik Karlsson. The veteran winger has finally developed some chemistry with Spezza after years of bouncing around between the first and second lines in Ottawa. If he remains healthy--and that’s always a concern with Michalek--he should be able to crack at least 30 goals again with around 25-30 assists. While he's in a good situation, don't overpay for last season's numbers.
Michalek had a slow start to the 2010-11 season as he was still recovering from an MCL injury that ended his previous season early. His skating and leg strength were seriously affected, but as the season wore on, his skating began to return to form as did his offensive numbers. Michalek will once again be one of Ottawa's top-6 forwards, but there's no guarantee that he'll play on a consistent basis with No. 1 center Jason Spezza. If Michalek can avoid the types of injuries that have slowed his career these last few years, he's quite capable of putting up close to 30 goals and 60 points for the 2011-12 season.
Michalek should be fully recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee by the time training camp begins in September. He'll likely start on either the first or second line and see plenty of time on the first power play unit as well as on the penalty kill. A second full season in Ottawa should see him better his numbers of last year as he'll have adjusted to Ottawa's system and players, including developing some chemistry with Ottawa's more skilled offensive forwards. Michalek should be able to reach 25 goals and 35 assists if he stays healthy for the majority of the season.
Michalek will likely start the season on one of Ottawa's top two lines. With his speed and big body, he adds a dimension that Ottawa hasn't had since the days of Marian Hossa. Should Michalek play with Jason Spezza, look for him to hit 25 goals and upwards of 60+ points. He'll also get lots of time on the power play and penalty kill.
Michalek has a superb all-around game which explains his knack for consistent play. At 23-years old, the right wing has a high ceiling for potential, and as long as he plays alongside Joe Thornton on the scoring line, the chance to blossom into a fantasy stud is there. Evidently, the Sharks were not bashful about their feelings towards the young star. In 2007, they secured his services with a six-year $26 million contract extension.
The 22-year old showed significant improvement between his rookie and sophomore season. He nearly doubled his total production going from 35 points (17 goals and 18 assists) in the 2005-06 season to 66 points (26 goals and 40 assists) this past season. Michalek is a lock to be on one of the top two lines this season. As he continues to gain experience and take advantage of being one of the fastest skaters in the league, he will continue to set career highs. Don't be surprised if he hits the 70-point mark this season.
Catch him on the right night and you wonder why he’s not a star; catch him on the wrong night and you wonder how he stays out of Ron Wilson’s doghouse. There’s still a lot of room for growth here – Michalek was the sixth overall pick in 2003, and he’s going to start the year skating with Patrick Marleau and Steve Bernier. Michalek also raised some eyebrows with a hat trick in the preseason opener. There’s no good reason why he can’t score 25 goals this year.
He'll get a long look this fall with Alex Korolyuk not returning from Russia. Some feel this could be a second or third line winger, while others don't like him quite as much. Let him prove it to you before you get invested.