Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Responding to Empty Netters

We like the blog on the post-gazette's website, Empty Netters (even if they never link or make mention of us!.

His inital reaction to the big trade is not favorable. Let's offer the other side of the coin:

OUR TAKE: We don't like this deal at all on many levels.
1.) Hossa is a noted playoff underachiever. He's produced only 35 points in 55 postseason games. After racking up 100 points during the regular season last year, he disappeared in Atlanta's four-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers producing only one assist.

Before last season Daniel Alfredsson (and pretty much every other Senator) was considered a note playoff under-achiever too.

True, Hossa didn't put Atlanta on his back, but neither did Ilya Kovalchuk, Keith Tkachuk, etc etc. Atlanta a relatively inexperienced team that was straight up over-matched all the way across the board by a more veteran New York Ranger team.

Hossa's play in the playoffs will determine, ultimately, whether this was a good deal or a terrible one. Our thoughts are: elite skill players will perform with other skill. It's worked with Jagr/Lemieux, it's worked with Crosby/Malkin, it's worked Hossa/Kovalchuk and it will work Crosby/Hossa.

Especially when dude man is playing for a payday.

2.) This flies directly in the face of the philosophy the Penguins supposedly have as far not giving up too much of the future for the present.
That is true, Shero always said he wanted to build through the draft and younger guys. But he swung this deal without sacrificing guys like Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, Alex Goligoski or any of the young core.

The Penguins gave up a guy who has reached his ceiling (Colby Armstrong), and a player who wouldn't get quality minutes at his natural position of center (Erik Christensen). Shero did trade a "boom or bust" guy in Angelo Esposito (who doesn't seem comfortable on the wing) and also likely a late first round pick.

There's no doubt it's a heavy price to pay. But it's made the Penguins into a real contender. Pittsburgh, for the first time in our estimation since 1996 now has the team to beat in the East. If Hossa goes to Ottawa, this is not the case. So if you can pony up the brass of a riverboat gambler why not make it?

3.) What does this do to the team's chemistry? Armstrong was one of the team's most popular players.
This is a valid point. Aside from being Crosby's best bud on the team, Armstrong was a teammate of many of these guys coming up through Wilkes-Barre.

But they are professionals and this is ultimately a business. Life goes on. At the end of the day the organ-eye-zation did what it thought was best to put the team in a position to hoist the Stanley Cup THIS year.

4.) Can they guarantee Hossa returns following the season? He's a free agent when the season ends and he's been asking for big money.
No, there is no guarantee, which is why the risk. And even if the Penguins COULD resign Hossa, does that mean they should? That would likely mean about $30 million would be invested in three forwards. No one knows what the future holds and this might end up being a very expensive rental.

The Penguins sacrificed two roster players that seem largely replacable and are not going to have top-line draft picks trickling through the organization in the coming years. But the Pens have the depth of guys like Ryan Stone and Jonathan Filewich that can play a large role in the NHL next season. The cubbard isn't totally bare.

Don't get us wrong, Marian Hossa is an absurdly talented player. But he comes with a lot of baggage.

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