Player Eval: Marian Hossa

Player Eval: Marian Hossa

I can hear the chant in the distance, "He will do better next year, He will do better next year, He will do better next year."

I have personally never been a fan of Hossa's signing, but more for reasons involving the loss of Havlat than because of Hossa himself. I made jokes about how Hossa was cursed to never win the Cup and had a deep respect for Havlat as a Hawk. When I heard the Hawks were going with Hossa, and over Havlat as an alternative, I cringed at the thought. After all, Havlat was a loved Hawk, a great player, already had established chemistry with the team (something Hossa is still waiting on), and he wanted to stay in Chicago with a team who wanted him to stay.

With that said, Hossa has the talent, the strength, and drive to be the top player in the league. He is a back-checking marvel, can power through the best of the D-Men, and has the speed to match anyone. When on his game, he seems to be an unstoppable force capable of holding onto the puck for years without threat and his defensive presence is enough reason to argue his hefty paycheck even when he isn't scoring.

He began last season as the hottest player in the league, even hotter than the streaking Patrick Sharp (not in the handsome, GQ sense) who was scoring goals left and right. If it weren't for these two guys early on, the Hawks might have gone scoreless for a month. In the end, Sharp would finish 8th in scoring, while Hosaa couldn't even make it into the top 50. Injury might tell a big part of this story, but it doesn't tell the whole thing, and the fact that injuries is a concern is even more reason to argue against his signing in the first place.

Hossa is an accomplished hockey player. He was in the Finals 3 years in a row and on 3 different teams. Has anyone else even done that? He now has a Cup to his name. But, on a game to game basis, what does Hossa accomplish? In my opinion, he does the things he is comfortable with extremely well, but constantly falls short to step up his game in the areas we might need him to, such as scoring. Hossa has hit that 40 goal mark a couple of times (he did it with the Wings), though not as a Hawk. This is an obtainable and maybe even expected goal with a guy who has this level of talent.

Honestly, I question his hockey sense sometimes when with the puck. It seems out of his comfort zone to be that goal scorer the Hawk fans have expected. I have seen too many bad passes, weak shots right at the goalie's chest even when on a breakaway (I found myself counting the amount of times he lets a wrister go right into the middle of the goalies chest) basically, he just too often comes up short when with the puck. And this is what we need out of him. Hell, if he just hit the 30 marker I would be happy. Maybe he would have if he played more than 60 games a year. If the goal of the game was to hold onto the puck, then he would be the best at it, and maybe Toews would be second best.

Don't even get me started on the playoffs. Sure, he is a defensive force, but the man has produced a whole lot of nothing on the stats sheet during the all important extended season.

Vegas made a comment in the last post about Hossa becoming a "third line center," and also commented on how Hossa's skill set matched Bollands. I feel like I could even argue that Bolland has more of that offensive killer instinct, but the statement offers something completely different to ponder. Could we see a Bolland/Hossa line combo? Or better yet, should we? Think about it for a sec. Hossa and Havlat used to play together and had great success in doing so. Bolland and Havlat had the same success together. Since Hossa and Havlat resemble each other in some of their game strengths, why not give a Bolland/Hossa line a shot? I think we might see fireworks.

But this also affects the whole scheme of things in the Hawk's playbook. What then, is Bolland's label? First line center maybe? This simple little move might carry along with it the possibility of having 3 full lines that are interchangeable in their equality as top lines. The Hawks might be able to roll 3 lines equally which could produce interesting results. It might look something like this:

  1. Sharp - Kane - (Brunette or Olesz)
  2. Toews - Frolik - Bickell
  3. Bolland - Hossa - (Smith, Brunett, or Olesz) I like the idea of Smith here though.

Getting back to Hossa now. I feel pretty good about handing down a final grade of C+ to the Hoss. He started orf hot, even scoring a goal a game for a few weeks. I began to wonder if the magic ingredient was winning a Cup for Hossa. No more burden on his shoulders anymore. But, even before his eventual injury, Hossa started to lose whatever goal- scoring, killer- instinct was fueling his success. We saw highs and lows through the rest of the season. Hot streaks and then droughts. Hossa has yet to become the full package. Something, that given his abundance of talent, has to be expected. You start getting the feeling, when looking at those line combos above, that if the players we expect to perform well this year actually do it, we could be in for one hell of a good season.

The verdict is still out about whether Hossa was the better choice over Havlat. Although I still lean towards having kept Havlat. The concern was with injury, and we signed Hossa when he was in fact injured.

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  • Can't type much now, at work. I actually meant Hossa as checking wing, not 3rd center. I like the idea of Hossa with Bolland, but with Bolland still center. Hossa-Bolland-Bickell is an idea that intrigues me.

  • This is crazy! Marian Hossa has played almost a full season more than the rest of his team adding all the playoffs in the last three years plus the olympics! He's human and human bodies aren't meant to be worked that hard and that much. He's had less than 3 months off for 3 years straight. HE NEEDED A BREAK. This article is such a joke. Weak passes, not scoring enough, better than HAVLAT?? Pleassee. Hossa scored more goals(25) last season than Havlat(22) and Marian played 13 games less. Granted, he does have a better team to help him. But a third line for Hossa? I don't think he's been on a line lower than 2nd his entire career! He has major skill and you'll see that next season. Hossa's gonna be well rested and hungry to win the Stanley Cup again. Oh and scoring isn't everything. He's so good at taking the puck away from the opponent. In the playoffs he hasn't scored much, but who says that can't change? All I'm saying is give the guy a break. I'm just gonna be smiling ear to ear when he scores 40 goals next season and on the first line.

  • In reply to Hossafan:

    I wasn't suggesting that Hossa should be on the "3rd" line. Im saying that Bolland and he would make up the "2nd," or maybe even "1st" line depending on how you look at it. The point was that the Hawks would have 3 equally as talented lines. Given that ideology I think we have to get off of this 1st line type of thinking.

    See, you said exactly what I started the whole post on, "you'll see that next season."

    And I completely agree with you that Hossa is an amazing defensive player. I noted above that he might be the best back-checker in the league. I also agree that his long runs in the playoffs 3 years in a row can have much to do with it, but we have to evaluate on what we have seen him do as Hawk, and since I see the talent in him to be one of the best players in the league (as I did mention above), I have to grade lower for not reaching that level.

    Plus, Hossa does make bad passes often and shoots at the wrong times. His scoring sense is off these past 2 seasons.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    By the way, again, as I mentioned in the first sentence of the post, "I expect Hossa to better next season too."

  • Shoot, can't type much ow either, but re Hossa on the third line, he's 32. He's not going to be skating second line through the end if his contract.

  • Hi guys,
    I'll say this about the Hossa vs Havlat debate. Marty played three seasons in Chicago and two of them were injury riddled. In his contract year he broke out when paired with Dave Bolland and he, miraculously, played the entire season. He was smooth, flashy, and had a penchant for timely set-ups and goals but he was soft. There was chemistry between he and Bolland.

    Hossa has just completed his second season. Actually he has not completed either one. He has seemingly not found that chemistry with any one player and has managed to put up better numbers than Marty did. Hossa, in my opinion is a far better defensive player than Marty and, when he is on his game, is there a better power forward in the league? I think not.

    Hossa is the result of a power struggle between incoming godfather SB sr. and outgoing GM Dale Tallon. Salary wise both he and Havlat have similar cap hits and the difference was term. I think this is where the people lose patience with Marian and don't see a lot of upside moving forward. He was injured coming to the 'hawks and was out last year because of a freak practice mishap with Boynton. It's true he may be in the downside of his career and his offensive numbers may tail off as his contract winds down—which, btw, I don't see him sticking around to fulfill—but, he is a valuable contributor at both ends of the ice now and by necessity in Q's methodology a versatile player. Now, if we could only do something about his shooting accuracy …

  • Its not so much that I don't agree that Hossa is (with all things considered) a stronger player than Havlat. I was uncomfortable with that deal at the time and it really hasn't won me over yet.

    I liked Havlat a lot, saw him as a good fit with the team at the time and usually lean towards keeping the guys who have fought it out with your team and earned the right to make a run for the Cup. Many players were unhappy about his leaving.

    To Hossafan, I do see your side of the argument and greatly appreciate a counterpoint to my statements, but like fourfeather has added to my view of Hossa, he might be lacking in the scoring-sense category. Hossa is stronger defensively for sure, but Havlat might have been the better playmaker. Either way, both are huge talents and the Hawks are lucky to have Hossa now. I simply feel that he has not lived up to the expectations (justified expectations) just yet, hence a C+ grade.

  • Okay, I've long considered myself a Hossa apologist. Before he came here, I joked about him too, and on the day I learned of the signing, I texted to a family member, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I liked Havlat a lot as well, but have come to my own conclusion that Hossa is a better all around player then Havlat is. But I think the kind of team he plays on is a very important piece.

    I won't redo my whole spiel about him, but in a nutshell, I questioned the signing because I just didn't think he fit the team the the Hawks were for the cup run. And, I kinda still feel the same way. I think Hossa is a puck carrying beast, is very solid defensivly while playing both sides of the puck for pp and pk and I genuinely believe Patrick Kane will be a better player for having played with him. But at the end of the day, I have to agree somewhat with one of the chief knocks on Hossa, which is that he hasn't scored enough. Key word in that sentence is somewhat.

    I still believe that Hossa is the kind of guy who is going to score goals by forcing mistakes. Too many times last year, I saw him play keep away for ten seconds or so without it amounting to anything. This doesn't mean he sucks, I just think it means that he is miscast to some degree. When I suggested him being on third line, down the road, I had a couple of things in mind. First of all, I agree that he won't play out his contract and I personally believe he will not play second line until the day he leaves. If the prospects pan out, there is too much talent below to keep Hossa on second line forever. The other thing I had in mind is that I kinda think Hossa might actually thrive on a checking line, ironically, like Havlat did.

    I expect a good season out of Hossa as well and for this year I absolutely believe he is still a top six guy. I don't know that I would see moving him to the third line at some point as an outright demotion. Shut down lines are huge and it just might fit his skill set a little better.

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    The only person I ever saw Hossa click with was Kopecky, and now he's gone. I enjoyed watching Havlat play with the team as a whole because he was able to score on his own as well as make everyone around him play better. Maybe he didn't put up as many numbers as Hossa, but did the people around him? (I don't actually know, and i'm too tired to look it up) I think Hossa has a lot of potential, but I don't know that he'll ever really find his fit on the team. The ridiculous lack of stability on lines doesn't help at all, but he always seems awkward on whatever line he's with. And every time I see him on a breakaway, I fully expect him to shoot right into the goalie's stomach. When he scores, they're crazy and amazing shots. I don't hate the guy, but I'm not sure I really get the fans who walk around in his jersey.

  • Looks like Mr. Sharp is going to retire a Hawk. 5 years 29.5 million or 5.9 M per year.

    BW

  • Hossa over Havlat. When he is flying the rest of the players on the ice look like they are AHL call-ups. Try to find his defence with his goal scoring numbers. Rested, he should be a playoff beast.

    Ten second forays going nowhere, I know. Ability to hit a goalie in the crest, outstanding. I'll accept it for his ability to backcheck.

  • Hossa is a better all around player than Havlat, at a lower cap hit, for a longer term. Post lockout I believe only Kovalchuk and Iginla have more goals than him. Hossa has struggled with injuries in that they have both sidelined him, and affected him upon his return. He looked fully healthy for about 40 games last year, and put up like 22 goals and 17 assists in that time (if you want to cheque the game logs I believe it was like the first 13 -till he got hurt- and last 25-30). He can put up points with the best of them, has a 100 point season to his name, and will produce this year if Q doesn't change the lines every 5 minutes, and if he doesn't get hurt. C+ is a fair grade for last year I think though.

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