The Athletic’s Down Goes Brown penned a subscriber-only article in which he examines the best and worst of the NHL’s post-2005-lockout free agency deals, discussing one-year through eight-year-plus contracts. According to Mr. Sean McIndoe, the Red Wings earn the best one-year contract of the post-2005-lockout free agency era for signing Marian Hossa to a 1-year deal…
Best deal: Marian Hossa, one year at $7.45 million with the Red Wings, 2008
Hossa didn’t come cheap – at over 13 percent of the cap, his AAV would translate to north of $10 million today. But his willingness to sign a one-year deal in the prime of his career was the key to finding a fit with the defending champs in Detroit. He reportedly turned down a five-year offer to stay in Pittsburgh because he thought he had a better chance of winning a Cup with the Wings.
OK, that part didn’t work out great, as those same Penguins beat Hossa’s Red Wings that spring. Still, you have to give him credit for taking his swing, and he did his part with a 40-goal season before heading back to the market in 2009.
On the flip side, there aren’t a ton of candidates for truly awful one-year deals because… well, they’re one year. Most veterans on expiring deals can be flipped at the deadline for at least a pick, and the absolute worst-case scenario is that the guy is a complete bust and you free up some cap space at the end of the year.
Continued; you and I both know that the re-signing Hossa part didn’t go great, either as Ken Holland was willing to match the salary that the Blackhawks were offering Hossa, but not the $9 million on the back end of the deal as “retirement money.”
Holland did get permission after re-signing Johan Franzen in “first come, first served” fashion to go after Hossa by the Red Wings’ ownership, but he was reluctant to sign Hossa to a free agent deal that looked like it was circumventing the spirit of the salary cap (and the Hawks did get dinged for the Hossa deal by the league)…
And the Wings missed out on Hossa’s 3-Cup run with the Blackhawks as a result. I don’t believe that the Wings were in a position to win 3 Stanley Cups going into the 2010 season, but his presence would have altered the trajectory of the team for years to come, and the Wings swung and missed when they tried to retain him at the last minute before free agency.
Instead, the Wings allowed the LA Kings to negotiate with Hossa from the draft up to free agency, and Hossa and his agent, Rich Winter, were swayed by that $9 million in back-end money (as well as the Hawks’ signing of Tomas Kopecky as a “sweetener”).