Marian Hossa could have gotten a multiyear deal for big money and a smaller chance at an elusive Stanley Cup ring.
One year in Hockeytown turned out to be a much better offer.
Hossa, one of the top forwards available on the NHL free agent market, agreed to terms on a one-year, $7.45 million deal with Detroit on Wednesday. It was the Red Wings who beat Hossa and the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games during the Stanley Cup finals last month.
The Penguins tried to keep him in alongside young superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the opportunity for a title lured Hossa away.
"It was a really tough decision for me to make," Hossa said. "When I compared the two teams, I felt like I would have a little better of a chance to win the Cup in Detroit."
With Hossa off the board, that leaves Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin and New York Rangers counterpart Jaromir Jagr as the most attractive forward options.
While Jagr might be nearing completion of a deal somewhere - perhaps returning to the Rangers or heading to Pittsburgh to replace Hossa - Sundin isn't close to picking a landing spot. A day after receiving lucrative offers from four teams, the 37-year-old Sundin issued a statement through agent J.P. Barry that he needs more time to decide his future plans.
One offer on the table is from the Vancouver Canucks, who presented a two-year deal that would make Sundin the highest-paid player in the NHL. The proposal is for two years, reportedly for the whopping price of $20 million.
"I would like to thank all the teams who have expressed such sincere interest in my services," said Sundin, who is home in Sweden. "The numerous options provided to me were impressive and I have no doubt that each one presented a unique opportunity for me to finish my career in a terrific hockey environment.
"Unfortunately, I am simply not close to being ready to make a decision about resuming my career at this time."
Hossa needed only two days of free agency to figure out where he wanted to be. After the best playoff run in his career, he made the decision to join the team that ended his hopes at a first Stanley Cup ring.
Hossa turned down a big offer from the Edmonton Oilers, believed to be worth between $70 million and $80 million over eight or nine years. NHL teams spent nearly $400 million on players Tuesday when the free agent shopping season began.
"Without Marian wanting to be a Red Wing, this day never happens," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
He won't turn 30 until the middle of next season and doesn't want to wait any longer to take his shot at a title.
"I could get more money somewhere else, but I was looking for the best chance to win the Stanley Cup," Hossa said.
Hossa left the Penguins on Wednesday but Pittsburgh finally announced the long-speculated re-signing of young star Evgeni Malkin, who agreed to a five-year extension worth $43.5 million - a deal comparable to one signed by teammate Sidney Crosby that kicks in next season.
Malkin, a finalist for the NHL MVP award last season, still has one year left on his entry-level contract. Pittsburgh also held onto hard-hitting defenseman Brooks Orpik with a six-year, $22.5 million contract but lost noted pest Jarkko Ruutu to the Ottawa Senators, who gave him a three-year deal worth $3.9 million.
Ottawa also gave forward Shean Donovan $1.25 million for two years.
There was no public movement on the Jagr front Wednesday, and Rangers general manager Glen Sather said he hadn't spoken with his agent Pat Brisson.
Sather didn't know if that was a good or bad sign, but he is still committed to bringing him back to Broadway for a fifth season.
"There hasn't been an awful lot said about it in the last couple of days, so I'm not sure," Sather said. "I think he was waiting to see what happened with Hossa, and now that that's happened I guess we'll find out something either today or tomorrow.
"It's necessary to have some experienced, talented people in your lineup to help the younger guys develop. Jaromir has certainly been a great player for this organization. I'm not ready to say goodbye to him. He might be ready to say goodbye to us, but I can't say that for sure."
Sather, who was believed to be in the chase for Hossa and might have interest in Sundin, pulled off a four-player trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets late in the day.
With a surplus of defensemen after signing Wade Redden on Tuesday and re-upping Michal Rozsival, Sather sent blue-liners Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to the Blue Jackets for high-potential forward Nikolai Zherdev and center Dan Fritsche.
"When you sign two players like Rozsival and Redden, they're both terrific hockey players and they can both log a lot of ice time," Sather said. "Just the way the economics of the game work, you can't have a pile of guys there that are making an awful lot of money but we want to have people that can move the puck and skate with the puck."
One player that won't be returning to the Rangers is prime agitator Sean Avery, who left New York and the fashion world behind to sign a four-year, $15.5 million deal with the Dallas Stars. In 86 games with the New York Rangers over the last two seasons, the club was 50-20-16 with him in the lineup and 9-13-3 without him.
"I think what I've done is just learn to manipulate the line (between right and wrong)," he said, laughing. "I like to push it to the edge, no doubt about it. That's how I play. That's how I live. That's what I'm all about. I've learned to do it without hurting the team."
The Blue Jackets also lost a key player when defenseman Ron Hainsey agreed to terms on a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Atlanta Thrashers. Hainsey, a puck-moving defenseman, had eight goals and 24 assists with Columbus last season.
In other notable moves Wednesday:
- The New York Islanders signed 37-year-old center Doug Weight to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million plus incentives. Weight could earn as much as $4.3 million.
- Vancouver inked forward Ryan Johnson to a two-year deal for $2.3 million, goalie Curtis Sanford to a one-year contract worth $650,000, and defenseman Nolan Baumgartner for one year.
- One day after coming to the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers, defenseman Joni Pitkanen signed a three-year contract for $12 million. Carolina also plucked defenseman Josef Melichar away from the Penguins with a one-year, $1 million contract.