Michal Handzus 2

Trade: ‘Hawks get Handzus from San Jose


The San Jose Sharks have traded one of their big-bodied forwards.

It’s just not the one you’d expect.

With trade rumors swirling around Ryane Clowe, the Sharks flipped the script and sent center Michal Handzus to Chicago in exchange for a fourth-round pick, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

Handzus, 36, will head to Chicago for the second time in his career. He was traded to the ‘Hawks in 2006 (in exchange for Kyle Calder), but suffered a torn ACL just eight games into the season.

It should be noted that, prior to getting hurt, he was a point-a-game guy.

As for holdovers from that ’06-07 ‘Hawks team? They include Patrick Sharp (who also played with Handzus in Philly) Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Handzus has been with the Sharks for the last two years after spending four seasons in Los Angeles. He has 1G-1A-2PTS in 28 games this year and is averaging 13:32 TOI per game.

The Slovak’s real value will come in the faceoff circle, as he’s won over 55 percent of his draws this season for the Sharks.

He’ll also give Chicago size down the middle — he’s 6-foot-4, 220 pounds — and some additional playoff experience, having appeared in 74 postseason contests.

Oh yeah, “Zeus” should give the ‘Hawks another option in the shootout.

He’s been one of San Jose’s go-to shooters this season, taking a team-high seven attempts, converting three times (he and Logan Couture are tied for the team lead in shootout goals).

Should also be noted the move reunites Handzus with countryman Marian Hossa — the pair were teammates for Slovakia at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where they finished fourth.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado