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