Once one of the prolific scorers in the NHL, reaching the 45-goal mark during the dead puck era before the second lockout, Marian Hossa believes he still has the scorer’s touch — at least to produce more than the 13 goals he scored last season.
Two years removed from a 30-goal, 60-point season, he ended last season with 33 points in 64 games. Injuries also interrupted his campaign.
He’s 37 years old — with five years remaining on a front-loaded 12-year contract — and age-related decline is one of the realities of the NHL game.
“I was pretty close to having more than 13 goals last year with so many chances but the puck didn’t want to go in,” Hossa told the Chicago Tribune.
“I definitely feel like I have more than 13 (in me). But I don’t want to put too many thoughts in my head offensively. I’ll just play my game and I know good things will happen.”
Hossa is one goal shy of 500 for his career, which has spanned 1,236 games.
Despite a drop in total goal production last season, Hossa still had the best puck possession numbers — 52.5 per cent Corsi For rating, but a full-season career low 6.8 shooting percentage — for Chicago players with more than 750 minutes at even strength, as per stats.hockeyanalysis.com.
Much has been made this off-season about how the Blackhawks may need to lean on younger forwards next season to help replace those who have left the organization, such as Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen.
For Hossa, at his age and following this past season, he may need to accept a different role than what he’s previously accustomed to.
Coach Joel Quenneville said he’d like to see the 37-year-old forward on the third line with center Marcus Kruger. It’s a combination that worked well late in the Hawks’ first-round playoff series with St. Louis.
“Maybe he carves out a different niche,” Quenneville said of Hossa. “I still see him producing, whether he’s playing against other teams’ best players, whether it’s 13 or 20-something (goals), we’re still going to get a pretty good game with the puck.”