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Hossa takes less for a shot at more

Tuesday, 09.16.2008 / 10:00 AM / Season Preview

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Marian Hossa at the trade deadline in February hoping he would be the final piece of the puzzle on a Stanley Cup winner.

The Pens came up two games short, losing to the Detroit Red Wings in a six-game Final, but not because of any failing by Hossa. In 20 games, he produced 12 goals and 26 points, one off the lead in both categories. He was one of Pittsburgh's best forwards in the Final with 3 goals and 7 points in 6 games.

Hossa became a free agent July 1 and had plenty of offers for long-term, big-money contracts. Instead, he stunned a lot of people by signing a one-year contract with the Red Wings, the very team he was trying to beat only weeks earlier.

"I wanted the best chance to win the Stanley Cup, and I feel like Detroit is the team," Hossa said of his decision to sign with the Wings. "I know I could get more money somewhere else, but the thing that I was looking for, for myself, was to win the Stanley Cup.

"It wasn't easy to throw that much money away, but I know I made the right decision. I truly believe that I made the right decision."

Hossa walks into a situation where he won't be counted on to be the star -- that's not going to be the case on any team with Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. But he'll be a solid contributor on a team that figures to go into the season favored to repeat as champion.

"Certainly when you bring in a guy like Marian Hossa, who again has tremendous financial opportunities, and securing elsewhere and really has picked our team as the team that gives him the best chance to win a Stanley Cup, I think it will be tremendous motivation for our team heading into the year," GM Ken Holland said.

Hossa isn't the only old face in a new place in the Western Conference, where the Wings' rivals are scrambling to keep up with the champs:

Brian Campbell, Blackhawks -- The Blackhawks were one of the NHL's best stories last season, riding a wave of young talent to a near-miss in the playoff race while re-energizing their fan base. But there's still work to be done, and GM Dale Tallon realized that a premier defenseman was a major need.

Enter Campbell, who scored 19 points in 20 games for San Jose after coming over from Buffalo at the trade deadline. The Ottawa native wanted to play closer to home and signed an eight-year deal with the Blackhawks.

"It's been a long struggle the past few years," Tallon said after the signing. "We worked hard and to come home empty-handed wasn't a very good feeling."

The Hawks rolled the dice by signing the 29-year-old All-Star to such a long deal. But Tallon feels adding Campbell was a low-risk move.

"Those aren't feet that are going to go away," said Tallon, a smooth-skating defenseman during his playing days. "He's a gifted skater and those are things you look at if you are signing a long-term deal like this."

The Blackhawks also opened their checkbook for goaltender Cristobal Huet, signing him to a five-year deal after Huet led Washington to the Southeast Division title.

Dan Boyle, Sharks -- With Campbell off to Chicago, the Sharks needed help on the blue line. They think they found the answer in Boyle, a 32-year-old who was a key factor in Tampa Bay's run to the Cup in 2004.

Boyle missed more than half of last season following surgery to repair a wrist injury caused by a bad skate cut. The second-team All-Star in 2006-07 still managed four goals and 25 points in 37 games and should more than fill the gap created by Campbell's departure.

"Dan is one of the elite offensive-minded defensemen in the League today," GM Doug Wilson said after landing Boyle. "Being able to acquire an elite player in his prime that has won a Stanley Cup will help this organization get to where we want to go."

The Sharks also got defensive defenseman Brad Lukowich in the Boyle deal and added Rob Blake as a free agent. But it's the addition of Boyle that figures to make the biggest difference for the NHL's regular-season runner-up last season.

"Obviously, it is very rare when a player like Boyle is available," Wilson said. "He is an elite player who has won a Cup. When you get an opportunity to get that type of player, you have to step up."

Olli Jokinen, Coyotes -- Phoenix has been hampered for years by the lack of a true No. 1 center. Enter Jokinen, who had 34 goals and 71 points for Florida last season in what he felt was a down year.

"We really feel that we got a big horse in the middle, a guy that can play a lot of minutes, can score big goals for us and can give us a physical presence. Just as important, it takes pressure off Kyle Turris and Marty Hanzal, so we don't have to lean on those guys. They're only 18 and 20 years old."

-- Phoenix Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky on Olli Jokinen

Jokinen has broken the 30-goal mark in each of the last three seasons, and the 29-year-old should be a good fit on a Phoenix team that looks ready to take a step forward.

"We really feel that we got a big horse in the middle, a guy that can play a lot of minutes, can score big goals for us and can give us a physical presence," coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Just as important, it takes pressure off Kyle Turris and Marty Hanzal, so we don't have to lean on those guys. They're only 18 and 20 years old."

GM Don Maloney envisions Jokinen playing with Shane Doan and second-year forward Peter Mueller, who played center last season. Though Jokinen has never taken part in a playoff game, Maloney said he believed "we needed to get that No. 1 to get a little more credibility, even with our fans."

Brendan Morrison, Ducks -- Anaheim's defense of the Stanley Cup didn't get past the first round of the playoffs last spring, partly because the Ducks didn't score enough. Anaheim had just three 20-goal scorers and was forced to sacrifice center Andy McDonald, a key to their Cup victory, to make room for defenseman Scott Niedermayer.

Enter Morrison, who centered one of the NHL's best lines with Vancouver a few years ago when current Ducks GM Brian Burke ran the Canucks.

The Ducks are counting on Morrison to give them a second scoring line and keep opponents from being able to gang up on Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, two-thirds of their one real scoring line.

"There's no question that the comfort level is there, and it's not like going into a situation where you don't know anybody at all," Morrison said.

Morrison, who turned 33 this summer, had nine goals and 25 points in 39 games for Vancouver last season. He missed 43 games with knee and wrist injuries after appearing in 542 consecutive games.

"I think a veteran player like Brendan, who's a made a good living at this game, is trying to achieve something, trying to win something and play the game the way he likes to play it," Burke said. "Randy's (coach Randy Carlyle's) style is Brendan's style where we emphasize speed, puck pressure and puck movement."

Other newcomers:

Todd Bertuzzi, Flames -- Anaheim bought out Bertuzzi and Calgary wasted little time in snapping him up, hoping the 33-year-old can stay healthy and produce.

Andrew Raycroft, Avalanche -- The Avs let Jose Theodore go to Washington and brought in Raycroft, who excelled in Toronto in 2006-07 but lost his job to Vesa Toskala last season.

Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger, Blue Jackets -- The Jackets missed the playoffs because they couldn't score. Huselius and Umberger are being counted on to give Rick Nash some help.

Sean Avery, Stars -- GM Brett Hull wanted to add some "sandpaper" to his team. He did that with the addition of Avery, an all-world pest who can also contribute offensively.

Lubomir Visnovsky and Eric Cole, Oilers -- Edmonton sent center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Matt Greene to Los Angeles for Visnovsky, a deal that enabled the Oilers to send Joni Pitkanen to the Hurricanes for Cole, a 30-goal scorer when he's healthy. Visnovsky should help the power play and Cole adds more speed and skill to a talented young team.

Marc-Andre Bergeron and Marek Zidlicky, Wild -- Minnesota added speed and puck movement to its blue line. Bergeron should help the power play with his big shot.



 

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