Monday, June 9, 2008

I Am Already Tired Of This

Look, I don't know where Marian Hossa is going to sign this offseason. Rayjean Shero and Marian Hossa themselves probably don't even know where Hossa will sign this offseason, as any offers from any team are probably only theoretical at this point. As renowned military strategist Donald Rumsfeld might put it, here are the known knowns.
  • Hossa will command big dollars
  • Hossa wants to play for a winner
  • Hossa enjoyed his time playing with the Penguins and Sidney Crosby
  • Hossa is now on record as saying he hopes to stick with Pittsburgh if it works out.

Let's look at the man's own words. "If I wanted to make a couple more dollars, I would probably just re-sign with Atlanta." Okay, good. We've already crossed a few teams out of the running. "But I'm glad Pittsburgh got me here. This was a fun journey for myself, and a great experience. I hope I can stick with a great team like this." Yep, we hope you can, too. "There's always a limit, but I'd rather take a little less and play on a good team, definitely." Totally reasonable. Bad news for us is there are a decent amount of good teams in the league. Not Atlanta, but still. Nice to know we're getting the first shot.

Of course, conventional wisdom is a powerful thing and the early conventional wisdom was that Pittsburgh won't be able to afford Hossa and he's most likely heading to the Rangers or Bruins. This conventional wisdom is so powerful that when people hear Hossa's own words, they still refuse to believe it.

But if the Penguins can't afford him, how could Boston? They had the second highest payroll this season and are right up against the cap. Savard and Bergeron get $5 million each next season, Glen Murray gets $4.1 (hello, cut!) Marco Sturm gets $3.5 (seriously!) Chara gets $7.5 and Manny Fernandez is due $4.75. He's not even the starter! How in the world - why in the world - would Boston fit $7.8 million for Hossa in there? And how is Boston, a team that barely snuck into the playoffs, considered good enough for Hossa's fine tastes?

Then there's New York. Don't you know that every athlete grows up dreaming of playing for New York? Even Slovakians! The Rangers were right behind Boston in the cap race last year. They owe Gomez $8 million next year and Drury $7.1. I swear on my own hair that is true. Sidney Crosby will only make $1 million more than Scott Gomez does for the next three seasons. In fairness, he'll only have 90 more points than Gomez during that span. King Henrik's new deal shoots him up to $7.75 million next season. And while Gomez and Drury eat up a lot of bucks, at least they're signed. Shanahan, Jagr, Straka, Avery, Mara, Malik, Roszival and Strudwick are all UFAs. People are in a lather because the Penguins have 12 UFAs if you count Kris Beech and you think Hossa is going to New York? Jagr made $8.3 million last year. How much of a cut do you think he's going to take? Avery is going to be looking for at least $3-4 million a year, considering that the Rangers repeatedly have said he's the heart and soul of the team. Are Straka and Shanahan just going to be gone? What about half of the defense? Will the Rangers even be good next year? I mean, who would think Hossa to the Rangers is even feasible?

Oh, Larry Brooks. Now, if you've followed hockey for a decent amount of time, you know that Larry Brooks and Al Strachan are two of the worst writers in the universe. Every idea they have is bad, every rumor they float ends up being false. How either one of these guys get paid is a totally mystery. Unions, I guess. On Sunday, Brooks wrote a column so fine that I have no choice but to copy the move of another great site.

So, tell me: How can the New York Rangers spend the $4.5-5M it will surely take to land Pittsburgh's heavy-hitting impending free agent defenseman Brooks Orpik following his breakout tournament, when it likely will cost around the same $5M per to re-sign Michal Rozsival?

Hmm. Now that's there a cap, they probably can't. Also, $5 million a year for Brooks Orpik? Wow. Good luck.

Yes, Rozsival had a disappointing season. But factor in mitigating circumstances - not excuses - that featured a wonky knee, an insecure response to playing out his contract and collateral concern over partner and friend Marek Malik's downward spiral out of the lineup. Now weigh those against the upside Rozsival displayed the previous two seasons, and most notably in the 2007 playoffs.

If a guy has a bad season due to contract concerns, you should always give him a ton of money. Plus, if you don't resign Malik and give his $2.5 million to Roszival, Roszival probably won't feel as bad about his friend not playing with him any more.

The Rangers, we're told, are among a select number of teams interested in former Penguins defenseman Josef Melichar, who played this season in the Swedish Elite League. A physical-oriented defenseman who will turn 30 in January, Melichar probably can be signed for approximately $1M.

$1 million for a guy who was out of the NHL last year? Please do that.

So, are the Blueshirts better off with a combined $6M investment in Rozsival and projected third-pair defenseman Melichar, or with a combined $6.5-7M investment in Orpik and, say, impending Montreal free agent Mark Streit, who would play on the third pair and on the vacated power-play point?

Using your estimated $5 million per year for Brooks Orpik, you're guessing you can get Mark Streit for $2 million per? Is this the Mark Streit who had 62 points for Montreal last year and established that he's a #1 power play defensemen? Because if it is, he might want more than that. Like...almost as much as Orpik gets.

Up front, are the Rangers more likely to win the Stanley Cup within the next couple of years if they re-sign Jaromir Jagr for a base of approximately $5M, or if they instead the cut the cord and invest the $7M per for which Marian Hossa, who in his own breakout postseason, was Pittsburgh's most consistently dangerous forward?

Nice of Jagr to volunteer to take a $3.3 million pay cut to stay in town. But if you go the other way, that's $7 mil for Hossa, $7 mil for Drury and $8 mil for Gomez. Nice balance up front. Oh, to answer your question, neither scenario makes them more likely to win the Cup.

Are the Rangers more formidable with Hossa on the first unit playing with Scott Gomez and Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky lined up as second and third pivots? Or are they better with Dubinsky playing with Jagr while Gomez seeks a compatible second-line winger and Drury is again dispatched to the third line?

This is your column, you tell me. Though I certainly wouldn't want a $7 million player on my third line. Second line is bad enough, but third? Makes it seem like I shouldn't have paid $15 million for two centers on the same day. Especially if one of them is losing ice time to a 19-year old.

There is no guarantee Hossa will sign with the Blueshirts if he gets to July 1, but we have heard nothing to suggest he would not.

Solid reporting right there. Also a good way to avoid subpoenas. Just say you didn't hear anything.

After plugging in Hossa at $7M, Rozsival at $5M and Melichar at $1M, then subtracting Backman, we have the Rangers at approximately $44.4M, without a back-up goaltender; sixth and seventh defensemen; and without Sean Avery, Brendan Shanahan and Martin Straka.

So...that leaves about $11 million. Even if Straka and Shanahan resign at last year's rates, that's $5.8 million gone. $5.2 million left. Although, New York is so great that those two vets would probably take pay cuts if Larry Brooks asked them to. Avery made $1.9 last year, so now we have $3.3 left. Heart and soul, etc, etc, so let's figure he gets a raise of at least $1.1. Now we have $2.2 left. That leaves $700k each for a backup goalie and two more defensemen. Assuming Mara returns for last year's rate of $3 mil. Which...wasn't he their best defensemen last year? He's coming back for the same rate as last year even though Roszival got a $2.8 million raise? Now there's a team guy! And assuming Hossa's deal doesn't get bumped up to, say, $7.7 million in competitive bidding. Hey, don't anybody get hurt out there, guys!

Look, just keep coming into the office and throwing stuff up against the wall, Larry. Retirement is getting closer and closer every day. It'll be a great day for both of us.

What is wrong with people? I mean, I realize that Fleury is getting a new deal and Staal and Malkin have big deals coming. But Boston and New York already have big deals in place! In fact, New York might be the most cap screwed team in the league right now. If you look at the right mix of cap space and competitiveness, some of the places Hossa could end up if not in Hockeyburgh are San Jose, New Jersey, Ottawa, Detroit (oh God) and maybe Washington if you want to push the definition of Cup ready.

But what would I know? I'm no hockey expert. All I have is Google. I'm certainly no Eklund. I mean, I know the guy had Hossa tagged for Montreal or Boston at the trading deadline. Why he'd go to either place when he has some in the matter is beyond me. But Eklund is only wrong 95% of the time, not 100%, so I guess there's a chance. There's also a chance of him hitting on a Montreal signing this summer, since he has them in the running for Sundin, Hossa, Campbell and Huselius. He also thinks Ryan Malone is leaving Pittsburgh because he didn't talk to reporters after Game 6. Make sense. Why? Why do I even read this stuff? Why do I do this to myself?

No comments: