Michal Handzus isn’t your prototypical second-line center on a Stanley Cup-winning team. At 36 years old, he’ll only make $1 million in 2013-14, a far cry from what other top-six pivots around the league are making.
But for now, the 2C job with the Chicago Blackhawks appears his, just as it was for most of last year’s championship playoff run. And he aims to keep it that way.
“If you play well, they’re going to keep you there,” Handzus said, per Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times.
After Handzus, the next likeliest candidate for the role is probably young Brandon Pirri. The 22-year-old led the AHL in scoring last season, racking up 75 points in 76 games with the Rockford IceHogs.
But Pirri has had to deal with a lower-body injury during training camp, limiting him to just one preseason game, and there’s reason to believe he may be headed back to Rockford once the ‘Hawks make their final cuts.
Is Pirri frustrated with the speed of his rise up the ranks of the organization? Perhaps.
“I’ve been here three years,” he said. “I think they know what I can do.”
But it’s a long season. Injuries happen. Handzus may not be up to the challenge. Chances are, Pirri will get to show he belongs in the NHL at some point in 2013-14, even if it’s not in Tuesday’s opener at home to Washington.
Related: Saad back to the wing for ‘Hawks