Potential UFA target: Michal Rozsival

Don’t laugh, don’t get angry, don’t ignore the rest of the post. I’m serious on this one. Michal Rozsival could be a good temporary solution to the defensive depth issues we saw during the Rangers playoff run this year.

His name brings out the boo birds at MSG, and to be honest, it’s easy to see why. Many looked at his contract, that $5 million per year contract, and saw that Rozsival should be putting up better numbers. He shouldn’t be sitting back and playing fairly well in the defensive zone, he should be up on the powerplay and helping make it go. He did not, thus he was booed.

That’s why Rozi might be such a fit for the Rangers: He doesn’t need to be that guy to put up offensive numbers anymore. He won’t cost $5 million a year either. For the Rangers, he would be a depth defenseman, someone to play on the bottom pairing. And let’s remember that he was playing top-four minutes for this club just last year before Ryan McDonagh’s emergence made Rozi expendable. Despite lack of offensive production, he was still somewhere between serviceable and solid in his own end.

Since offensive output isn’t really going to be a priority for Rozi, it means we can focus on defensive metrics (OZone start, QoC, RCorsi), GVT/DGVT, and ice time for a proper analysis of Rozsival’s defensive game.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. Rozsival was one of Phoenix’s more reliable defensemen throughout the season and during the playoffs. Rozsival averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per game and generally played between 25-30 shifts per game. He may not be flashy, but it’s clear that two separate coaching staffs (NYR, PHX) relied on him to be a steadying presence on the blue line.

Going deeper into the stats, Rozsival managed to finish last season with a 4.1 GVT (1.1 OGVT and 2.9 DGVT splits) over 54 games. Prorated for 82 games, that’s about a 6.2 GVT and a 4.4 DGVT. Using my good ole PVT metric, Rozsival was worth about two extra points in the standings for Phoenix over 82 games. Not amazing, but not exactly a liability either.

Looking at his metrics, Rozi finished with a -.012 Qoc, a 2.8 RCorsi, and a 46.2% offensive zone start percentage. Those numbers aren’t exactly top notch, but they do illustrate that the majority of Rozi’s shifts were in the defensive zone, and he still managed to have a positive puck possession metric. He wasn’t doing this against top competition, but as a bottom pairing defenseman for the Rangers, he wouldn’t be facing top competition anyway.

Of course, these numbers mean nothing unless you compare them to some of the current in-house options the Rangers have been deploying on defense. So let’s see how Rozi compares to Stu Bickel, Jeff Woywitka, Steve Eminger, and Anton Stralman in these categories:

Player QoC Rcorsi Ozone GVT DGVT PVT
Rozsival -0.012 2.8 46.2% 4.1 2.9 1.37
Bickel -0.076 -2.5 51.9% 2.3 1.5 0.77
Eminger -0.123 -3.4 50.8% 1.2 1.5 0.40
Woywitka -0.239 11.5 55.6% 2.0 0.7 0.67
Stralman -0.077 0.4 51.6% 5.6 3.0 1.87

So right off the bat, we can eliminate any notion that Rozsival is a downgrade from Eminger, Woywitka, or Bickel. Sure, Bickel brings physical jam to the ice, but his five minutes per game in the playoffs shows that he just isn’t trusted. Rozsival is a major upgrade over these three.

The real comparison gets down to Stralman versus Rozsival. Rozsival has a better RCorsi (puck possession) than Stralman despite playing against tougher competition (QoC) and starting fewer shifts in the offensive zone (Ozone). Their DGVT is almost identical, but Stralman bring more to the table offensively, as noted by his higher overall GVT.

In the end, it comes down to two things: price and injuries. The biggest concern right now with Rozsival is his health. He suffered a knee injury in the playoffs after a questionable collision with Dustin Brown, and he was also recovering from a non-concussion related head injury. At 34, coming back from injuries becomes tougher, but it is assumed no team will sign him if he can’t pass a standard physical. Stralman has no such injury concerns.

As for price, well Rozsival won’t even sniff $5 million ever again. I would think he would peak at half that –$2.5 million– for a one year deal. He’s definitely serviceable and can still hold his own in the defensive zone, but he’s not going to get top-four money anymore. As for Stralman, he is NYR property as an RFA coming off his one-year, $900k deal. Considering the year he had and how effective he was in the playoffs, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see him double that salary, although I expect him to peak at $1.5 million.

As for the “intangibles” of playing in the toughest division in hockey, both have played there, so that’s essentially a wash. Both have played for Torts, so that’s a wash as well. Both would be expected to be bottom pairing defensemen, so that’s another wash.

It comes down to price, injuries, and age. Stralman is younger, cheaper (likely), and healthier. Rozsival is the seasoned veteran who may have an injury concern and is slightly more expensive. Stralman produced more offensively this year, but Rozsival is better in his own end. It’s really a give-and-take situation. If Stralman prices himself out of New York, the Rozsival could be a nice short-term stopgap. Contrary to popular opinion, the numbers show he’s not a liability, and that he would be a decent fit with the Rangers.

22 Responses to “Potential UFA target: Michal Rozsival”

  1. Matt J says:

    Don’t all defenseman and goalies do better under Tippet though?

    I really don’t want him back. After Jagr left he wasn’t the same. Forgetting power play his defensive side began to fall down hill. There were too many WTF moments he had on the ice.

    I don’t think Tortorella is dying to have him back either.

    • Spozo says:

      Rozy wasn’t the same after knee surgery which coincided with Jagr leaving. I’m not sure how I feel about this but I can tell you that roszival would have logged more than the 3 shifts that bickel averaged though out the postseason.

  2. Zen says:

    Dave… say it ain’t so. I literally checked the calendar to see if it was April 1st. The problem with Rozy was that he was horribly incosistent and a bit soft. He would have strong stretches of play, followed by giveaway city for games at a time. In reality, if you are deciding to pay Rozy that cash, then why not pony up for Stralman, who showed that he could thrive the majority of the time under this regime?

    • The Suit says:

      Agreed. Plus I dont think Rozi’s skating was really up to snuff with what Torts wants from his defensemen.

  3. prole30 says:

    Bickel was a rookie with a half year experience. He was there because he was trusted more than Erixon or Woywitka not to mention Eminger who looked like he never recovered from his injury. He would have come to the fore had the series been rougher. But this is where Sather did slip up in not bringing in a vet like Strudwick to complete the ranks. The Devils aren’t using a more promising rookie Larsson in their run but they could resort to a Harrold and now a Tallinder which is the kind of depth you need.

    • Kevin Baumer says:

      Jason Strudwick!!!?

      • Tim B says:

        i want strudwick back to tell you the truth. When he was in the playoffs withthe Rangers, they scratched Christian Backman and Strudwick played and he played very well. If he were to be signed by the Rangers than i could see him playing in the playoffs and getting good ice time compared to Bickel. Why play with 5 d men when you got good oll Strudwick?

  4. Dave says:

    I’m not saying I’m an advocate for bringing him in, I’m just saying he could be a low cost option.

  5. Chris says:

    I’m an absolute no to Roszival even though I think he got a hard ride from fans for a while. He’s not the type of blueliner we need.

  6. Kevin Baumer says:

    I’m totally on board with Rozsival in a revised role. Caught a lot of grief cause Rangers fans always need a whipping boy on D, but in a 5th or 6th D role against checking line players, he’d be just fine. Pretty clear who’s going to handle the bulk of the minutes on D and Rosy would be a huge upgrade over the bottom pair guys of this year. Handled a big role in Phoenix this year, so if he’s healthy he could fill in on a bigger role if necessary too.

    • Kevin Baumer says:

      And for the record, I’d certainly prefer Stralman, I just don’t think he’s interested in coming back.

      • Dave says:

        I’d like Stralman to come back too, but I think he’s going to want 3 years, I’d be willing to go max at 2 years.

        • Kevin Baumer says:

          Sounded like he was pretty likely to head back to Sweden in breakup day interviews

          • Dave says:

            Really? I missed that. If that’s the case then he may come back on a one year deal. Keep things temporary so he always has the option of going back.

  7. sean says:

    Rozy? Get real dude. Stralman might sign a 2 year deal. I think he is unsure about staying in the states long term

  8. Tim says:

    Great post. Guy was our #1 defenseman for 3-4 years of good hockey that saw us make the 2nd round twice, and played his last couple years here very banged up and booed everytime he touched the puck bc our fanbase always needs a D-man to hate. The 5 million a year contract Sather gave him was absurd, but not his fault. I love the guy, but hope for his sake he stays in phoenix where he gets 25 minutes a game, plenty of valuable ice time at even strength and PK, and doesn’t have ignorant fans take out their insecurities on him because their powerplay has sucked for the last 15 years.