Rant Sports Top 100 Players in the NHL: No. 97 Milan Michalek

A left winger for the Ottawa Senators, Milan Michalek is part of one of many brotherly duos in the NHL–his brother Zbynek plays for the Phoenix Coyotes. This past season, the younger Michalek was voted into the starting lineup of the 2012 All-Star Game in Ottawa–a starting lineup dominated by his teammates–by nearly 744,000 fan votes. He was on Team Alfredsson, captained by his normal captain Daniel Alfredsson, and though they lost 12-9 to Team Chara, Michalek put up an assist and a goal as well as participating in two of the SuperSkills Competition events.

Just about a month before the All-Star festivities, Michalek accidentally ran into Erik Karlsson, causing a concussion that had him sitting out five games. At the time, he was actually leading the entire NHL in goals at 19. He did recover, of course, and closed out the 2011-12 season with a career-high 35 goals as part of a 60-point season.

Michalek’s NHL career started with the San Jose Sharks, where he had such a good rookie season that he won the team’s Rookie of the Year award. That initially proved to be a good return on San Jose’s first-round selection of Michalek, sixth overall, in 2003.

He avoided the sophomore slump and put up 66 points, which gained him the reward of the biggest contract San Jose had ever given out at six years and $26 million. However, he was traded in 2009 to Ottawa with Jonathan Cheechoo in exchange for Dany Heatley and a 2010 draft pick. With his current team, he scored his first career hat trick and had a two-goal night in his first game against the Sharks. He’s added another hat trick this past season.

In 2010, he and his brother Zbynek teamed up as part of the Czech Republic’s team at the Winter Olympics. He scored two goals, but the Czech Republic did not medal. He’s also represented his home country at the 2011 and 2012 World Championships, winning two bronze medals back to back. His goal with less than a minute to go against Sweden was the reason the Czechs took bronze in 2012.

Michalek is a tall and heavy presence at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, but he doesn’t just lumber around on the ice imprecisely trying to score goals, as his stat sheet shows. He led the Senators in goals this season and was third behind Jason Spezza and Karlsson in terms of points totals. His production helped get Ottawa into the playoffs after a year away from the postseason, and though they lost in the quarterfinals, that and the All-Star Game helped jazz up Senators fans for quite a big season. If Michalek continues his high-scoring ways, and his teammates also keep chipping in (the onus will be on Karlsson to keep up the work that got him the Norris Trophy), he could very well climb up this list next time.

Highlight Reel:

http://youtu.be/pAmtG-fsFKc

Michalek takes a pass from Karlsson and then baffles Dennis Wideman en route to a goal against the Washington Capitals, celebrating with an interesting little flick of the hand.

http://youtu.be/1o46iFgFwbM

The goal that got the Czechs the bronze at the 2012 Worlds. Commentary is not in English, but it’s still pretty easy to understand the gist of it.

http://youtu.be/JiYu1sg6UdU

Michalek’s second career hat trick as part of a 7-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning includes two empty-net goals.

Fun Facts:

  • Though Michalek is so big and tall, he has only gotten into three fights in his NHL career, none of them with Ottawa.
  • Both Michalek brothers were born in December–Zbynek in December 1982, Milan in December 1984.
  • Aside from international competition, the Michaleks have never played together.

 

The Rant Sports Top 100 NHL Players series will examine the top 100 players all across the league. Look for more from the top 100 soon.

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