With reports that the Chicago Blackhawks want to offload Marian Hossa’s contract to a non-contender, it is an option that Marc Bergevin should look into.
Sounds like #Hawks renewed efforts to move Marian Hossa’s contract in last few days. Hossa, 39, has three years remaining at $5.25 million in one of those back-diving deals and league proved his medical condition worthy of LTIR exception this season.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 28, 2018
With recent developments in Montreal — drafting well, acquiring more draft picks, and taking on Steve Mason’s contract for a buyout — it seems that the Canadiens are going for a longer retool than previously expected, and it might be a stretch to be competitive for the upcoming season.
With 17.2 million in cap space before signing some of their restricted free agents, including newly minted Canadien Joel Armia, it seems that there will be plenty of cap space in Montreal this season as well. There should be a better way to make it work for Montreal than to just sit and let it rest, as the team essentially did last year.
Chicago has around $8 million in cap space but needs a top-four defenceman, and they are in a win-now situation as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews reach the peak of their primes, with a combined $21 million cap hit to boot.
Hossa has a skin disorder that will prevent him from playing out his contract. With three years left on a $5.25 million AAV deal, (but $1 million in actual salary) it could be an interesting option for Marc Bergevin to absorb the cap hit and have his retool of the Canadiens organization go full circle.
In three years the team could just be starting its push for a Stanley Cup with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling, and the rest of the youngsters still on their rookie contracts and Artturi Lehkonen, Charles Hudon, and Victor Mete on standard contracts.
While Hossa’s contract doesn’t count against the cap, a team would still have to have room for the player both in terms of cap space and a roster spot, as well as the fact that it takes up one of the 50 contracts the team has for each year. Hossa’s contract loses value every day of the season you wait, so the best deal would have to be to acquire it before the season starts.
The incentive here is that, while taking on millions against the cap, Marc Bergevin could still gain prospects and draft picks from a club that he has a good relationship with after his days within the organization.
One team that has benefitted from taking on contracts like this is the Arizona Coyotes, who took on the Pavel Datsyuk contract and gained a first-round draft pick from the Detroit Red Wings. That 16th overall pick in 2016 turned into Jakob Chychrun.
When Arizona took on Datsyuk’s contract it was to help facilitate a rebuild. By making a deal to helping a Cup run, the contract is even more critical for Chicago to remove. Combine that with the fact that the team’s plan is to have that pick fall as late as possible, and Chicago would have to give up more than what Detroit did in comparison. A second-round pick in each of the final two years of Hossa’s contract could be a good starting point.
There is one big thing with Bergevin taking on a contract like this, and it would be the clear message that Montreal is in a rebuild. It’s something that Bergevin has repeatedly stressed isn’t the case, however draft picks and entry-level deals are the way of the new NHL. If the Canadiens’ GM were open about it and could promote the possibilities it gives Montreal, I am sure that even the most dedicated fans would eventually come around to the idea.