Probably no one in the league started off the season hotter than Marian Hossa. Fresh off finally losing that Stanley Cup Finals monkey on his back, Hoss came out ready to lay waste to the entire western conference. However, while we'd like to blame his fall back to earth on a certain defenseman that shall not be named, Hoss was starting to cool off long before he missed yet even more time due to injury this year... remember when he was the better signing because he was so much more durable than Havlat?
#81 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Jan 12, 1979
|2010 - Marian Hossa||65||25||32||57||9||32||8||2||2||205|
Contract Status: Signed until Harold Camping figures out when the next scheduled rapture will occur ($5.275 million Cap Hit)
Positives: As mentioned above, Hossa was destroying everything in sight to start off this season. He racked up 11 points before Patrick Kane even realized the season had actually started. He had another amazing stretch from late February to late March where he was unstoppable. When Hossa is on top of his game, there is almost nothing that can stop him (hence "I'm Marian Hossa and you're not"). He brings a complete game to the Hawks as well and can be a force when on defense. He's the total package, he a's machine... we know this.
Negatives: But he's certainly not "on" every game, is he? For as great as he can be, it's easy for him to just disappear like Kaiser Soze. After the 7 game point streak to start the season, Hossa was off the scorecard for the next 4 before missing time to an injury. This was only a short break but he couldn't quite pick up the pieces and notched another 7 points before missing even more time with yet another injury. Though the second injury probably isn't his fault, it raises flags about his durability. Hossa hasn't had a full season since the '06-07 campaign with Atlanta. Missing a game or two is fine and certainly isn't a knock on any player in this league but Hossa has averaged only 61 games in his first two years in a Blackhawks sweater. Are these nagging long term injuries, signs of the three extra long seasons Hossa played leading up to this year or just freak occurances? Are they holding him back for the times he's actually out there playing? You wouldn't be out of line to expect Hossa to be a 40-goal scorer yet he's failed to even crack 30 in these past two years.
Defining Moment: It's a common knock on Hossa that he doesn't show up in the playoffs. I don't quite think it's fair and neither do his 6 points in this year's 7 games. It could just be that under the magnifying glass that is the postseason, you notice it more when a player fails to do something amazing. Thankfully I guess we have Hossa being Hossa to set up Ben Smith's OT winner in game 6 to remind us all of just how dominating he can be:
Outlook: Even though his deal is ridiculously cap-friendly, as opposed to someone like Brian Campbell, there's no reason to think we won't be looking at Marian Hossa staying on this Blackhawks team. The big question will simply be who we see Hossa skate with. For most of the year we saw him paired with his Slovak counterpart, who is likely to depart this summer, and Patrick Sharp in the center. While Sharp certainly plays better at center than we would have expected when he was forced into the role, he's not the kind of guy Hossa needs in the middle. They're both looking far too much for someone to pass them the puck. There are solutions here though, find someone who is willing to do the work to get Hossa the puck or even just make a small switch with what we've already got. Hossa is a far better player with Toews (isn't everyone?) and Sharp and Kane have got quite a nice thing going for them too. Who fills out the third spot? Who cares? That's something we can figure out later (though a big body would probably be needed on that Sharp/Kane line). Health is clearly a concern but hopefully the long summer will do him some good. Hossa has put on a lot of miles in the last three years and could use a break.
Final Grade: C+. He's close to a point per game player and at times the most thrilling player on the ice. It's hard to argue with that. However, for as brilliant as he can be, he's almost as frustrating the other times. It's not quite fair to grade a player based on the fact that he's dealing with injuries but I'd like to see you try and stop me. If Hossa can find a way to stay in games perhaps he can find the consistency that was certainly lacking last year. If not, he'll certainly be worth keeping around for the times when he's playing at a different speed than anyone else.