Pens give up too much for Hossa
In an absurdly surprising move, GM Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins traded for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers, giving up Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, 1st round draft pick Angelo Esposito, and next year’s first rounder. Hossa is what writers and broadcasters call a “rental” player, which is kind of a misnomer, as all players are “rentals” – just some longer than others. Hossa had been thought to be going to the Canadiens in exchange for NHL-ready talent. I find it hard to believe that they or any other clubs offered up anywhere near the amount the Penguins did, at least in terms of prospects. While Christensen still had potential and I liked Colby Armstrong, I am more worried about the 1st round pick and Angelo Esposito. Esposito has big-time potential, but fell in a Leinart/Quinn fashion to the Pens at #20 during the NHL draft. A commonly cited reason for the drop was his lack of leadership ability or some other intangibles nonsense. With Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, and Esposito, the Penguins would have had four great centers. Additionally, the Penguins pretty much do not have a draft next year, having traded their 2nd and 5th round picks for Toronto defenceman Hal Gill. A quarter season and playoffs of Hossa really is not worth it. The Thrashers have to be absolutely thrilled with their haul. Its hard to believe that the second-best offer to them couldn’t have been beaten by this trade minus the 1st round pick (or more preferably minus Esposito).
In any case, the Penguins have committed to winning this year. Presumably Hossa will be playing on Crosby’s line, but I’m still worried about Crosby’s return, which makes me even more down on this deal. Even if Hossa ends up signing with the Penguins for next year, they’ll still probably be paying sticker price for him, but maybe (hopefully?) Shero knows something I don’t about this.
While we’re in to hockey talk here, I would like to throw out some general thoughts. I don’t like the perceived need for an “enforcer” in the NHL. Specifically, I don’t like my favorite team thinking its a necessary component of the game; I’d rather the rest of the NHL go about believing in intangibles. I really have nothing against Georges Laraque or other enforcers, but they seem to be wholly unnecessary and outdated. Are hockey players really afraid to hit teams’ stars because of them? It doesn’t seem like it. Enforcers, such as Laraque, typically contribute nothing offensively and marginal defensive value. They are there to “change the tempo of the game”, “give their team a boost”, and “shift a game’s momentum”, which are all code for “there is no proof or reason to believe they have any effect, but I would like to think that they do anyway.”
I especially hate that head coach Michel Therrien is playing Laraque (a forward) with Malkin. I don’t understand this at all. Laraque contributes nothing offensively. He can’t pass to Malkin, he can’t receive passes from Malkin – his main offensive skill seems to be holding onto the puck behind an opponent’s net. Thats nice and all, but he can’t make a pass from there, which means it doesn’t lead to any scoring opportunities. Besides, Malkin can do plenty well enough below the end line himself. I liked Ryan Malone playing with Malkin and Petr Sykora, as he creates havoc in front of the opposition’s net and is great for chipping in rebounds or charging hard to the net to create scoring opportunities. This is great for Sykora and Malkin, who can both blast the puck.
One final note: of the handful of black hockey players in the NHL, two of them are bitter fighting rivals. Georges Laraque and Washington Capitals’ forward Donald Brashear have been involved in four fights, including two this year. Tell me that doesn’t set off your white guilt.
Arbitrary song of the day: Kirsty Hawkshaw – Fine Day (James Holden Mix)