Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Kanata, we have a problem

You know that sincere request I made yesterday for Sens GM John Muckler to feel free to announce the signing of Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, and Jason Spezza? Don't hold your breath waiting.

According to today's Ottawa Sun, not only are the Sens and Hossa not only not close to a deal, but they're about as far part as two sides can be.

Hossa told the paper he turned down a three-year contract, believed to be for $11.5 million, and is gearing to go to arbitration, filing at 5pm today. Hossa is contending that he's worth top dollar, and will test the open market next year as a UFA.

"We're at a dead point right now. We are nowhere. They offered me a three-year contract, but it wasn't good enough. ... It wasn't anywhere close to my comparables. If you look at my points the last two seasons, they've been close to Iginla and (Boston's Joe) Thornton. ... I'm not pissed off. You know me, I'm not that type of guy. I love the city of Ottawa, I love the fans there. I want to be part of that team for a long time. I just want to be paid what I feel is a fair amount and I don't want to settle for less."

Let's take a look at the statistics of those who were given new contracts this past summer to see where Hossa falls, averaging out over their past three NHL seasons.

Markus Naslund 80.3GP, 41G, 51.6A, 92.6pts $6 million
Peter Forsberg 62GP, 24.6G, 58.6A, 83.2pts $5.75 million
Jerome Iginla 79.3GP, 42.6G, 36A, 78pts $7 million
Pavol Demitra 76GP, 31.3G, 45A, 76.3pts $4.5 million
Glen Murray 81.6GP, 39G, 35.3A, 74.3pts $4.15 million
Milan Hejduk 75.3GP, 35.3G, 37A, 72.3pts $3.7 million
Miroslav Satan 81GP, 30.6G, 37.6A, 68.2pts $4.015 million
Alexei Kovalev 74.3GP, 27.6G, 38.3A, 65.9pts $4.5 million
Alex Tanguay 73.6GP, 21.3G, 43.3A, 64.6pts $3.23 million
Zigmund Palffy 58GP, 28.3G, 33.3A, 61.6pts $3.5 million
Paul Kariya 71.6GP, 22.6G, 35.3A, 57.9pts $4.5 million

Marian Hossa 80.3GP, 37.3G, 38.6A, 75.9pts

So what have we learned, besides the fact Mike Milbury (shockingly, I know) overpaid for Miro Satan?

Numbers wise, Hossa is most similar to Glen Murray, who commanded $4.15 million from the Bruins, and Pavol Demitra, who got $4.5 million from the Kings. Neither are significantly more than the offer the Sens apparently made. One might argue Murray played with Joe Thornton, thus padding his stats, but Hossa has also played with top players in Ottawa, especially on the PP.

Of course, from Hossa's side, if Alex Kovalev is worth $4.5 from the Habs and Paul Kariya worth $4.5 from the Predators, then he has to be worth more.

Assuming Hossa's claims of wanting to play in Ottawa are legitimate and not newspaper spin so that he's not booed out of the building when he does suit up this season, then why not a weighted contract, similar to what the Blue Jackets gave Rick Nash.

Because the reality is, the Sens have very little cap room, and lots of people to sign over the next coming years. Not to beat a dead horse, but had they bought out either Bryan Smolinski or Greg de Vries, both of whom are quite overpaid at over $2 million/year, then they'd have more wiggle room.

The Sens are committed to $23.6 million already, with Hossa, Havlat, Spezza, Mike Fisher, Anton Volchenkov (who, in brighter news, looks like he's ready to sign with the team), and Antoine Vermette still having to be signed for the coming year.

They have both Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara coming up on UFA status next year, and I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that both won't be back. The year after that, Havlat and Chris Phillips are both eligable to test the market.

Assuming all their restricted free agents accepted their qualifying offers, which would be an incorrect assumption at this point, as Hossa's offer ($2.662 million) was more than a million less than what they later offered, the Sens would still be close to the cap, at $32.3 million. Muckler has said he wanted to spend no more than $37 million so they have some room to manuveur near the trade deadline or if injury problems arise. They would also have two forward spots to fill, and little money left to do so.

You don't have to be any kind of capologist to see that the Sens will be entering harsh waters the next few years.

I'm certain Sens fans will label Hossa the second coming of Alexei Yashin for his demands. This would be unfair. For one, Hossa does not have a contract, so he's not breaking an agreement. And two, we haven't seen how this will play out. Let's hold the cat calls and hisses for a bit.

All of that said, the future of Hoss in a Sens uniform looks a lot more bleek this morning than it did yesterday.


At 1:51 PM, Blogger aquietgirl said...

I haven't really prepared myself for the Hossa-less, Chara-less, Redden-less Sens, and I hope I won't have to. Best case scenario for Hossa is that he signs for $4-$4.5 mil, long-term. Worst case scenario, he goes to arbitration, comes up with something ridiculous, and we have to let him go. Even the case in between -- a one year, arbitration deal and he gets to be an UFA next year, is just bad timing.

I never thought the Sens would be falling apart so fast. It took us so long to grow!

At 2:11 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

My scenario for keeping Hossa was a five year deal with an escalating salary. First year $4 million, $4.5 the second, $5 million the third, $5.5 million the fourth, and $6 million the sixth. Seems reasonable. However, that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

I still think they will lose either Chara or Redden. It will be a case of chosing which one you want to keep.

Considering they'll still have Phillips, Meszaros, and Volchenkov, they won't be too thin back there, but it will be an adjustment.

All I know is Bryan fucking Smolinski better put up 60 points, and do so by making an impact and not just because he played with great players. The Sens have shown tremendous loyalty to this guy. Gave him a four-year deal in an off season when the norm was one year deals, and didn't buy him out this year. Time to put up.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Brett Mirtle said...

I'm so sick of the verbal garbage that pro athletes spew out. "I love the city, etc". Well great, then prove it by realizing that this is a TEAM sport and the world doesn't revolve around any one single player.

The salary cap was supposed to put a reign on salaries, but now it seems as though it may only accomplish the break up of deep and highly skilled teams.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger just'cuz said...

At this point, who is the franchise player for the Sens: Alfredsson or Hossa? Looking at the last four seasons (when Mr. Hossa joined the 30 goal club):
Alfie: 310 games 299 pts 0.993 ave.
Hossa: 322 games 303 pts 0.941 ave.
Over their career:
Alfie: 629 568 0.903 ave.
Hossa: 467 390 0.835 ave.
Point is, anybody can play with stats. BTW: Compare Hejduk's numbers against Hossa over the last four years and over their careers...Hossa loses that too!

Alfie is the captain (despite what Team1200 announcers want to think) and gets $4.66 million this season. So, why should Hossa get more than Alfie. Maybe he shouldn't even get what Hejduk gets!

Anyway, the Sens should make sure they sign Jason Spezza to a long-term deal before they spend it on Hossa.

Don't worry about the salary cap and losing "all" the Sens talent...after this year (with the one-time buy-out grace period), all teams and players will be in the same boat. Teams will not have much room under the cap to sign star players away from their current teams, without having to unload their own stars. Do you not think Pittsburgh will reach its cap soon? Mario still isn't officially signed and the rest of the league will scream if he doesn't take at least $4 million of their cap! Philly can't sign anymore free-agents without having to trade a player; Montreal is at $20 million with only 14 players signed, without a signed starting goalie. Atlanta still hasn't signed Heatly or Kovalchuk. The only only team that's done well under the cap system is Florida and they haven't signed Bouwmeester and Luongo! The Sens would have lost one of Chara, Phillips or Redden, sooner or later...I think they should trade Chara or Redden or de Vries some time this season and offer Leschyshyhn or Simpson or another experienced d-man, $1 million for this season.


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