Ilya Kovalchuk, Marty Turco, other free agents could learn from Marian Hossa

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For the last couple years, Marian Hossa’s free agent path has been the source of sometimes-justified mockery. After all, the two-way forward seemed like the ultimate mercenary, jumping from contender to contender in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Chicago.

Yet after finally raising the Cup and signing a cap-friendly (though risky over the long-term) contract, I might just dare to change Hossa’s label from “mercenary” to “visionary.”

The wisest moment, I’d say, was the one-year contract Hossa signed with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps it was just a matter of having an agent who recognized a limited market, but Hossa was able to take a run at the Stanley Cup – he only fell one game short, after all, with Detroit – before landing a secure deal with the Blackhawks.

Some of the wayward free agents could learn a thing or two from Hossa. I mean, really, if Marty Turco and Ilya Kovalchuk have the swagger to match their demands, wouldn’t they be able to knock it out of the park under the pressure of a high-risk, high-reward, one-year deal?

Let’s face it, both players have their warts. If they were dreams on skates, they’d be able to attract the deals that aren’t coming. Yet, if they decided to take a chance and sign a digestible one-shot contract with a contender they could put a lot of fears to rest. And, I would assume most importantly to them, attract a Godzillian offer.

This approach applies to Kovalchuk a little more than Turco because the goalie market is pretty dry, but I think that both should strongly consider postponing their long-term choices. Think about it this way, if you’re LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi, could you really say “No” to a one-year, maximum salary contract with Kovalchuk? Honestly, Turco could be very wise to take a one-year deal with a team like the San Jose Sharks or Philadelphia Flyers*; after all, it can’t help his chances that the Dallas Stars missed the playoffs two years in a row with him as their main guy, right?

* – Yes, I know the Sharks and Flyers supposedly have their goaltending situations straightened out, but something tells me they’d consider making some adjustments for a more “proven” goalie.

Either way, you have to think that reality might make its way to Turco and Kovalchuk sometime soon. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.