July 01, 2008
The Edmonton Oilers were always assumed to be one of the suitors for free agent winger Marian Hossa. Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal confirms today that after a huge trade yesterday, GM Kevin Lowe is ready to run a wheelbarrow full of dead presidents over to Hossa:
A well-placed source said it would take a "minor miracle" for Hossa to be anything more than another one that got away, but the Oilers are baiting the hook this time with at least $9 million US per year for a slick scorer who would solidify the top line with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff.
Lowetide identifies the domino effect that accompanies this kind of contract for Marian Hossa. In summary, the Oilers' fourth line would consist of an oompa loompa, a Fathead wall sticker of Zetterberg and Craig MacTavish himself. But wingers with the numbers and consistency like Hossa's don't come around often.
So that's one dance partner for Hossa. Here's another potential one: The Chicago Blackhawks. Columnist Tim Cronin of the Southtown Star writes, perhaps, the most delightfully hyperbolic plea of the summer; claiming Hossa is "the guy who can tip the scales in the Hawks' favor for the first time since 1961" and asking readers to "imagine what it would be like if, in June of 2009, he leaves the ice carrying the Cup. In Chicago. Wearing the Indian Head."
And here we thought the Chicago media had unofficially banned unfettered optimism sometime after the Bartman thing.
Meanwhile, the team everyone figured would be in the mix for Hossa may not be. Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has gone public with a desire to remain frugal and patient as the free-agent frenzy starts. Can Boston even afford Hossa? And if not, could the Red Wings or Penguins?
The Bruins, who yesterday agreed to terms on a new deal for forward Petteri Nokelainen (two years, average $850,000), won't shop in Hossa's 'hood. Their cap already stands right around $50 million, leaving them with slightly less than $7 million in potential shopping dollars. A tight budget and a squeezed market for top free agent talent most likely will have the Bruins cautious from the start.
General manager Peter Chiarelli, reached by phone late yesterday afternoon, sounded as if he is prepared to ignore the early wave of emotional bidding, then look to move in for a value purchase (the $2 million to $4 million-a-year range) once the market begins to cool.
No Boston, maybe Chicago and certainly Edmonton. Spector's on record as believing Hossa will end up in Motown; some Detroit Red Wings fans would rather see Mats Sundin wearing the Winged Wheel. Signing with the team that defeated them in the Stanley Cup finals doesn't sit well with at least one Pittsburgh Penguins fan: "Do you have a soul Mr. Hossa?"
Which brings us back to Pittsburgh, where Hossa could still very well end up when the dust settles. From the Post-Gazette:
The Penguins are believed to have a five-year offer worth $7 million per season on the table for Hossa. That's less than he will command if he ventures into free agency, but as of last night, he still had not rejected it.
While the Penguins would have preferred to have Hossa's answer long before this, there's reason to think they might not close the door on re-signing him even if he hasn't committed to return by midday.
Under such a scenario, general manager Ray Shero could formulate a contract proposal for a free agent he sees as a possible replacement for Hossa, but not submit it to that player until he has given Hossa a final opportunity to accept the Penguins' offer.
Because if that's true, and Detroit's in the mix, it gets rather complicated and uncomfortable for Hossa: Would the Red Wings give him a better shot at a Stanley Cup over the next five years than the Penguins would?