Just when the slowing global economy was expected to diminish spending for NHL free agents, the Slovak wing Marian Hossa hit the open market again.
Blackhawks swoop to sign Hossa
NEW YORK // Just when the slowing global economy was expected to diminish spending for NHL free agents, the Slovak wing Marian Hossa hit the open market again. And instead of taking a discount on a one-year deal to take another shot at a Stanley Cup title with the Detroit Red Wings, Hossa cashed in a mega deal with the up-and-coming Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
A few hours after the NHL free-agent season was open for business, the Blackhawks said goodbye to Martin Havlat and came to terms with Hossa on a 12-year, US$62.8million (Dh230m) deal. It was the headline move on the first day of free-agent shopping. The New York Rangers landed the second biggest prize, signing Hossa's countryman and high-scoring forward Marian Gaborik from the Minnesota Wild on a five-year, $37.5m contract.
Hossa left the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer to join the defending champion Detroit Red Wings - saying he believed that gave him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup. But the Penguins dethroned the Red Wings last month, leaving Hossa in second place again. "Now I don't have to worry about dealing with it year-to-year. I'm set for 12 years. That will make it easier and I can focus on hockey," Hossa said.
After marathon negotiations in Sweden, the Vancouver Canucks finally reached matched deals to retain identical twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin on five-year, $30.5m contracts. "We really like it in Vancouver and that's where we wanted to stay," Henrik said. Defenceman Mattias Ohlund couldn't say the same as he left the Canucks after 11 seasons to sign a seven-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 32-year-old played in 770 NHL games with the Canucks and is the team's career leader in goals by a defenceman with 93.
Montreal were busy signing former Calgary forward Mike Cammalleri to a five-year, $30m deal, and defencemen Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill. Spacek left the Buffalo Sabres for a three-year, $11.5m contract, and Gill was lured away from the Penguins by a two-year deal worth $4.5m. Combined with Tuesday's six-player trade that brought centre Scott Gomez to the Canadiens from the Rangers, Montreal penned contracts worth $82.75. However, they did not retain defenceman Mike Komisarek, who signed a five-year, $22.5m deal with Toronto.
The Maple Leafs also added toughness by agreeing to terms with former Rangers enforcer Colton Orr on a four-year, $4m deal, with New York replacing him with former Washington Capitals forward Donald Brashear, the NHL's most-feared fighter. In other moves, the star defenceman Scott Niedermayer made his return to the Anaheim Ducks official by agreeing to a one-year, $6m deal plus bonuses, forward Steve Sullivan re-signed with Nashville for two years, $7.5 million and the Capitals signed former Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Knuble to a two-year deal worth $5.6m.