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.