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

Jul 8, 2010, 3:30 PM EDT


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.

  1. Andy S - Jul 9, 2010 at 7:37 AM

    Come on now Kovalchuk, you are a good player show flashes etc, but its takes a team to win a cup . one doesn’t do all , take the max and the team you play with will suffer cause theirs nothing in the tank but fumes , so face it , your best chance is to sign with the NJ Devils period, wake up , Lou is going to wait for u forever , live in LA and all the cup u ever see is a cup of water…..

  2. Al Q - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    This Hossa style free agent approach is more than plausable for a player like Kovalchuk. With teams out there that are looking for that big offensive push that caused them to essentially stall out in the post season last year (i.e. the Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks) All these teams should be willing to make a one year deal to see what kind of spark Ilya could provide them. I feel that these teams are the kind of markets that he has the best chance of dealing with. They’re all teams that in the past few seasons have fallen just short of greatness that they could be willing to find any sort of help for their organizations, as far as veteran offensive talent goes.
    As for Turco, I think he’s between a rock and a hard place. His last couple of seasons have been far from superb and it’s pretty apparent that he’s been a falling star for the past 5 years. But maybe a change of scenery is all that he needs to get back on top of the league, and if that’s the case then I can see no where better for him to play than in St. Louis. Halak has made it clear that he isn’t the man that’ll get it done for the Blues and I don’t know how much wear is left in Ty Conklin’s boots as he has been passed around the NHL like an early 90’s groupie. I think that Turco would be best trying to establish himself as the veteran who’s coming in to carry the team for the next couple of years, get himself a nice 3-5 year contract, and re-shape his image to become one of the leagues great goaltenders (of his era at least, personally I don’t think he’ll ever come close to licking the mud off of Patrick Roy’s or Hasek’s boots).

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