SOUTH BEND, Ind. – To coach Joel Quenneville, Michal Rozsival re-signing with the Blackhawks doesn’t mean the grappling for spots on the blue line is over. It also doesn’t mean Rozsival is 100 percent healthy.
The Hawks announced Saturday that the 37-year-old defenseman has signed a one-year deal. Rozsival, who was with the team on a professional tryout, is still recovering from a broken left ankle he suffered in May and hasn’t taken part in training-camp scrimmages.
Rozsival said he’s only doing light skating and conceded he will need some time before he gets on the ice with his teammates. Quenneville said “we’ll see” if Rozsival will require all of camp to heal.
“If he’s ready by the end of camp, that’d be great,” Quenneville said. “Tough to say.”
A member of two Hawks Stanley Cup champions, Rozsival figures to once again provide depth whenever he’s healthy enough to play. He appeared in 65 games with the Hawks last season, scoring one goal and adding 12 assists and is glad to be back after a challenging summer.
“It has been tough, obviously. The whole summer was tough but I’m feeling really really good right now,” Rozsival said. “Maybe the last few weeks I’ve been feeling really good.”
At first glance, Rozsival’s signing looks like the Hawks’ blue line could be set for the upcoming season. With Rozsival inking a deal, the Hawks have seven defensemen: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor Daley, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, David Rundblad and Rozsival.
Kyle Cumiskey is in camp on a PTO but is recovering from an injury. Veterans Lubomir Visnovsky and Jan Hejda are also in South Bend on PTOs, but Quenneville doesn’t think the spots are locked up.
“Not with us. No, I still think there’s competition,” Quenneville said. “There’s still things to be sorted out.”
What doesn’t need to be sorted out is how Quenneville views Rozsival.
“He gives you some safety, predictability. He doesn’t have to play every game, but when he comes in, you’re comfortable with him in all situations,” Quenneville said. “It’s reliability and obviously we kind of missed some important minutes without him there in some key situations in the playoffs last year. Nice having him back and giving us some depth.
“We’re still thin in numbers compared to other years, but having him back helps fill that void.”
Rozsival’s contract reportedly is worth $600,000 plus $200,000 more in incentives.