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Should Chicago Buy-Out Rostislav Olesz?

In late June, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired forward Rostislav Olesz from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Brian Campbell.

It was a move that really helped both sides in different ways. The Blackhawks were able to move Campbell's large contract that they had been desperately trying to get rid of, while Olesz's career in Florida was a bumpy roller-coaster ride plagued by injuries and a struggle to find a comfort zone in their system ever since the organization drafted him 7th overall in the 2004 NHL Draft.

In 6 years with the Panthers, Rostislav Olesz has only played more than 59 games in a regular season just twice. Highest point total he's earned in a season? 30, back in 2007. That's what makes his career in Florida a disappointment coming from a player drafted 7th overall. Were his expectations too high? Did injuries keep him from playing at a high level? Who knows, but for whatever reason it just didn't work out. Regardless, it would be somewhat unfair for the Blackhawks to already give up on this guy.

Now, the thing that probably worries Blackhawks fans the most (including myself) is that the 25-year old forward suffered a torn ACL back in February; however, he is expected to be fully healthy by the start of the NHL season. Does that make him somewhat of a risk? Sure it does, but it shouldn't be the main reason to buy-out his contract without giving him a shot to prove himself just like every other player at camp fighting for a roster spot.

Rostislav Olesz has great size and ability for a winger who can also play at both ends of the ice. He has been surrounded by mediocre players, at best, in an organization that hasn't seen playoff hockey in 10 years. Maybe a change of scenery to a city that has a nice hockey atmosphere and a team with a promising young core will help him get going. Something that a developing young player having a hard time finding consistency may need is a strong supporting cast with veteran leadership (which he's never really had) and the Blackhawks could help him turn around his career. Also, it might take a little pressure off of his shoulders knowing he's not the face of the franchise, like he was in Florida.

Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman shot down any ideas of buying out Olesz's contract, "The buyout period has passed. He's a player that needs a fresh start."

With the Blackhawks dumping Brian Campbell's $7.1 million cap hit for the next 5 years and the salary cap rocketing up from $59.4 million to $64.3 million this season, Stan Bowman now has more than enough breathing room to work with. Rostislav Olesz' contract of $3.1 million for the next 3 years is not nearly as difficult to stash away than Brian Campbell's and it won't hurt the team if things don't work out. It's a moveable contract. So, what's there to lose? The least the Blackhawks can do is give Olesz an opportunity to start fresh in the Windy City.

Follow Charlie Roumeliotis on Twitter @CRoumeliotis

1 comment:

  1. It doesn't appear that the Hawks can buy out Olesz' contract anymore until the end of next season. There was a loophole, but it was only applicable if the Hawks went to arbitration with a player and that didn't happen.

    I don't really agree that Olesz' contract is particularly movable, however. $3.1 is a lot for a player who has been constantly hurt and unproductive.