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Lappy 08-30-2001 10:14 PM

M. Hossa contract article
 
Senators Must Get Hossa In Camp
With Alexei Yashin gone, the Ottawa Senators badly need Marian Hossa to provide their offense.
By Senators.fan.ca
Aug. 28, 2001


It's a crisis the Senators can't afford - literally and figuratively - but it can't come as much of a surprise.

Two months after the team traded top scorer Alexei Yashin, resident superstar and second-leading scorer Marian Hossa is on the verge of holding out of training camp. If Hossa doesn't report to camp, the Senators already disappointing season ticket campaign will suffer even more.

The situation is this: Hossa is a restricted free agent two years away from gaining arbitration rights. He can either sign a contract or sit out the entire season, which has been done before. He made $650,000 last year and the Senators have offered him the mandated 10% increase in their qualifying offer.

The team would like to lock up their best player for three or four years, but the likelihood of that happening at the Senators price isn't good. But Hossa has said that he would sign a long-term deal that would overlap his arbitration years, but the price would have to be right. He pointed to the big-money deals Peter Forsberg and Paul Kariya signed at a similar age as examples.

That's no good for the Senators. Those deals are way out of their price range.

There have been reports that Hossa would like a deal starting at $3.5 million per season. A good comparison for Hossa is New Jersey's Petr Sykora, who posts similar offensive numbers. Sykora had his best offensive season in 2000-01 with 35 goals and 81 points. Hossa had 32 goals and 75 points.

Sykora was arbitration eligible and received the biggest percentage raise in NHL history when an arbitrator gave him a two-year, $6.8 million deal, a 400% raise from last year's salary. Hossa is looking for something similar.

The question in Ottawa is this: Can the Senators afford not to have Hossa in the lineup?

The answer is no.

Without Yashin, the team is very thin on offensive talent. If they are going to have any success this season, the line of Hossa, Radek Bonk and Magnus Arvedson must dominate the way they did in the first half of last season. If they don't, they will be in trouble indeed.

Jason Spezza is still without a contract. So is Daniel Alfredsson. Of players currently on the Senators roster, only Shawn MacEachern has recorded a 30-goal season. The writing is clearly on the wall: the Senators need offense and badly. Hossa is the only one who can provide it. So the Sens have to find a way to get Hossa signed and in camp.

In other Ottawa news, there is nothing new to report on the contract front with Zdeno Chara or Alfredsson.


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