Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pittsburgh Wins Hossa Sweepstakes

The headline deal of the day came minutes before the trade deadline was to pass and the Eastern Conference talent pool was disrupted like a fat man doing a cannonball.

The Pittsburgh Penguins made the huge splash acquiring Marian Hossa (Dale C.) and Pascal Dupuis (non-pool) from the Atlanta Thrashers for Colby Armstrong (non-pool), Erik Christensen (non-pool), Angelo Esposito (non-pool) and a 1st round pick in this summer's draft.

To PittsburghAgeGamesPointsContract (July 1st)
Marian Hossa, F296056UFA
Pascal Dupuis, F286215UFA
To Atlanta
Colby Armstrong, F2554241-year, $1.2 million
Erik Christensen, F2449201-year, $750,000
Angelo Esposito, F1900RFA
2008 1st Round Pick

The Penguins have now made conscious decision to win now and with this deal, plus the return of Sidney Crosby (Benson) and Marc-Andre Fleury (Dennis) only days away, the Penguins should be quite potent when it comes to winning games. In doing so, however, they did give up a lot of character in Armstrong and Christensen, but both were highly coveted by a lot of teams (as the rumours go), but for the scoring touch of Hossa, the gamble of character seemed to make sense for GM Ray Shero. They also had to give up, in essence, two first rounders, since Esposito was the Penguin's 2007 first round pick and then this summer's, which is a very deep draft. With Pittsburgh starting to win now, they won't be receiving the same draft positions that saw them draft the likes of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (Dale B.).

The big question will be, "can the Penguins sign Hossa to a long-term deal before July 1st?" Currently, the Penguins have 13 players on their current 23-man roster that are signed on for next season, at a rate of $34.1 million (approx.). That should leave close to $20 million (depending on what the cap raises to next season) for 10 players. Also to be signed for next season includes, Fleury (approx. market cap hit: $4.5 million), Malone (approx. market cap hit: $3 million) and Laraque (approx. market cap hit: $1.3 million). That would only leave over $11 million for 7 more players, which doesn't look promising for Hossa. Especially since Malkin's deal ends at the end of next season and Hossa is looking for something long-term. This should only be a rental deal for a Cup run, by the looks of things.

For this deal to be a steal for the Thrashers, which it could be... the key will have to be Esposito and his transformation into a clutch NHL performer. Remember, for this deal to be a "steal," this would have to happen. In all honesty, it seems to me that it's a longshot possibility, but we'll see.

This is already a pretty good deal for the Thrashers, since adding Armstrong and Christensen to their team isn't going to hurt them on the checking side of the equation. Both players have been regarded as "great to excellent" third line players, who could also score on occasion. I'm sure in some circumstances, either (or both) player(s) will see special teams ice-time, which is always considered handy among hockey circles. And since they still each have a season left on their contract, they don't have to hastily make another deal with them to extend their contracts and then get the deals that are better suited to the team and their budget.

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