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Thread: Pens sign defenceman Zbynek Michalek for 5 years $20 million

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    Pens sign defenceman Zbynek Michalek for 5 years $20 million

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=533377

    Free Agency 2010 Blog
    Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 12:54 PM
    NHL Free Agency 2010
    By NHL.com Staff

    Penguins recover
    07.01.10 / 1:18 PM ET

    While the loss of Sergei Gonchar, who signed with Ottawa early in the day, may have been tough to swallow. Pittsburgh's Ray Shero did not spend too much time sulking.

    Less than an hour after Gonchar became the first big-ticket free agent to find a new home, Shero pried Zbynek Michalek away from the Phoenix Coyotes by offering up a five-year deal.

    According to reports, Phoenix did all it could to keep the shot-blockIng physical defenseman in negotiations that went right down to the noon ET deadline. But, when that failed, Pittsburgh was not shy about jumping into the breach.

    While Michalek does not have the offensive skills possessed by Gonchar, he is one of the most underrated defenseman on the market. The 27-year-old had just 17 points last season, but was a plus-5 with 156 blocked shots and 80 hits.

    --Shawn P. Roarke
    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=326250

    Defenceman Zbynek Michalek has signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    The 27-year-old native of the Czech Republic had three goals and 14 assists for the Coyotes last season.

    The 6'2, 210 pound blueliner helped the Coyotes to a successful venture into the post-season in 2009-10.

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    Re: Pens sign defenceman Zbynek Michalek for 5 years $20 million

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=533418

    Michalek to Penguins
    Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 1:56 PM
    NHL Free Agency 2010
    By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Staff Writer

    Shortly after losing Sergei Gonchar to Ottawa, Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero bolstered his defense with the physical presence of former Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek to a five-year contract worth $4 million per season.

    Michalek was considered one of the pieces the Coyotes could not afford to lose because he was the anchor in front of Vezina Trophy-finalist Ilya Bryzgalov. TSN reported before noon Thursday that Phoenix was trying to work out a deal to keep Michalek, but apparently couldn't get it done in time.

    Michalek will give the Penguins defense a different look. He's not at all like Gonchar, a puck-moving, power-play specialist, but he is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound load who is 27 years old and moves bodies around.

    It's possible that Shero saw how difficult it was for the Penguins to contain Michael Cammalleri in the playoffs this past spring and realized the need for a stalwart, stay-at-home blue-liner was there. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in 2009 with Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi as its stay-at-home pair.

    Michalek has 115 points in 415 NHL games, including 17 points in 72 games this past season. However, he was 15th in the NHL in blocked shots with 156. He led the Coyotes in ice time per game last season at 22:38 and in short-handed ice time per game at 3:16. He also played close to a minute and a half per game on the power play, showing his versatility.

    Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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    Re: Pens sign defenceman Zbynek Michalek for 5 years $20 million

    http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=533514

    Penguins Bolster Defensive Core With Addition of Michalek
    Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 4:45 PM
    Features By Jason Seidling

    They say that defense wins championships, so it should come as no surprise that the Penguins wasted little time filling one of the vacancies along their blue line on Thursday when they inked free agent defenseman Zbynek Michalek to a five-year contract just one hour into unrestricted free agency.

    Michalek, 27, comes to the Penguins after spending the previous five years with the Phoenix Coyotes.

    The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic native is eager to join a Penguins defensive core which now features five members (Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski, Ben Lovejoy and today's other signee Paul Martin) in addition to Michalek who are under the age of 30 and signed for at least the next two seasons.

    “I am really excited about the chance I have been given to come to a great team like Pittsburgh which is building a great defense,” Michalek said. “I am looking forward to this new challenge. I am really happy”

    This past season Michalek, who served as an alternate captain for the Coyotes, was one of the defensive anchors for a Phoenix squad which finished the regular season ranked third in the National Hockey League with a 2.34 goals-against average.

    As a result of Phoenix’s dramatic improvement defensively from the year prior, the Coyotes were able to make the postseason for the first time in seven years. That sniff of playoff experience, the first for Michalek in his six-year career, was one of the deciding factors which drew the blueliner to sign with the Penguins.

    “I really enjoyed my time in Phoenix but at the end of the day it didn’t work out and I have a chance to play with Pittsburgh now,” Michalek said. “I am coming to a really great organization with a lot of talent. They compete for the Stanley Cup every season so that is something I was looking for because I am a competitive guy and I want to win. I see a really good chance to do that in Pittsburgh.”

    While Michalek won’t replace the offense lost when Sergei Gonchar signed with the Ottawa Senators, he will add other important attributes to the lineup.

    First and foremost is a shutdown presence whose forte is taking care of the dirty work in his defensive zone. Michalek, a right-handed shot, led all Coyotes defensemen in 2009-10 in average time on ice (22:38 minutes per contest) and blocked shots (156). Two years ago he led the entire NHL with 271 blocked shots.

    “When I talked to (general manager) Ray (Shero) and (head coach) Dan (Bylsma) they said they are looking to improve the defensive play of the team,” Michalek said. “They want me to play the same defensive style that I played in Phoenix.

    “I had a defensive role in Phoenix where blocking shots was a big part of my game. I will keep trying to work on that and keep getting better because that is one of my strengths.”

    Michalek, who recorded three goals, 17 points and posted a plus-5 rating in 72 games with Phoenix in ’09-10, will also help the Penguins penalty killing unit, which was already plenty impressive after finishing this past season ranked ninth in the league with a 84.1-percent success rate.

    The penalty-killing extraordinaire saw a team-high 3:16 shorthanded minutes of ice time per contest with Phoenix last season. With Michalek’s ability to block shots and clear the front of the net with his size, the Coyotes were able to finish the year as one of the few teams to rank ahead of the Penguins on the penalty kill with an 84.5-percent kill rate.

    “In Phoenix, special teams literally helped to keep us in contention,” Michalek said. “Our penalty kill was really strong. When you get into the playoffs special teams are a huge difference-maker.

    “I am a defensive player and my job is to play on the PK. I take pride in that. I like to play good positionally and make it hard for the other team around our net.”

    Finally, Michalek will bring durability to the Penguins’ back end. Over the past five seasons Michalek has missed just 17 games, suiting up for 393-of-410 games during that period – including three seasons where he dressed for all 82 contests.

    “I have been a little bit lucky because hockey is a tough sport and you get hurt once in a while,” Michalek said. “Knock on wood but I have been pretty lucky to avoid serious injuries – especially the way I like to play the game. You get hit by the puck so many times you can break some bones but so far nothing has happened to me. I hope it will continue that way so that I can play all 82 games again.”

    By joining the Penguins, Michalek will once again have the chance to go head-to-head with younger brother Milan, who plays for the Ottawa Senators, four times a year. The two met six-to-eight times a year from ’05-06 to ’08-09 when they shared a home in the Pacific Division back when Milan skated for the San Jose Sharks.

    “I talked to Milan and we discussed that scenario,” Michalek laughed. “I know that Pittsburgh and Ottawa have met a couple of times in the playoffs the past couple of years so that would be pretty exciting if that happened again. Hopefully he can get back healthy (from a torn ACL suffered against the Penguins during the postseason) so that we can have fun playing against each other again like we did when I was in Phoenix and he was with San Jose.”

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