Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cutting Your Losses : Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell

So Marian Hossa has decided to openly announce that his chances of re-signing with the Atlanta Thrashers are "slim". I'm here to tell you that I've had enough. If I'm a general manager and my player openly says something like this, c'est au revoir mon ami!

GM's and fans alike don't need this kind of attention around their team. The Thrashers are in the heat of battle for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. And now their best player tells them he is likely to move on. What kind of reaction does this attract from the locker room? He's abandoning his team and what's worse; he's comfortable in announcing it to the media. So what does Don Waddell do?

Well, you start by trading Hossa immediately. The Thrashers have to look for help elsewhere, and trading Hossa as soon as possible will only strengthen their playoff hopes. Get rid of the attention, get their motive back on track, and most importantly, get rid of the player. If Waddell waits until the Trade Deadline, other teams will know that he is even keener on moving him and the Thrashers will more than likely get fleeced.

In the Thrashers case, I am not suggesting unloading him for picks and prospects, because quite frankly, theyĆ¢€™re not the Leafs. I am suggesting swapping him with others players that will help the club attain the playoffs. Considering HossaĆ¢€™s contract, why not aim big for players like Martin St-Louis, Brad Richards, Mats Sundin and Olli Jokinen, just to name a few.

On the other hand, the Thrashers can attain a multitude of players by swapping Hossa for a package deal. This kind of thing can smooth out more holes on an inconsistent Thrashers club and place more responsibility on the young and super talented Ilya Kovalchuk.

With that said, the Thrashers -- if they believe it is best for their club -- can call the season quits, trade Hossa and attain a hefty package of draft picks and prospects. This would all but obliterate their playoff hopes but assure them an even brighter future.

However, I don't believe that would be fair to the fans that held their Thrashers allegiance with pride even after the club missed the playoffs for 10-straight years. They deserve better. The city hosts a club that can be competitive and with a little tweaking and quick decision making, they could turn this ship around.

Waddell, the ball is in your court.

A similar situation resides in Buffalo Sabres defenseman, Brian Campbell. The young and offensively gifted Campbell is uncertain of his future with the Sabres, his contract negotiations have erupted from one extreme to the next. And now reports are suggesting he is done negotiating until the end of the season.

Darcy Regier has a huge decision on his hands. If you wait until this season passes by -- which could very well foresee the Sabres out of playoff contention -- Campbell could end up walking for nothing. Like Daniel Briere and Chris Drury before him, he would be another star departed from the passionate city of Buffalo.

If I am Regier, I give Campbell one more contract offer, if he declines, then I trade him at the deadline for some much needed assets. Campbell is a vital piece to the Sabres defense, but the asking price would be quite surprising. But if the Sabres do not want to risk missing the playoffs, then swap him. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle comes to mind. Aim high, because you never know.

Sure, it's risky business considering all that has happened to the Sabres this past year. But it is a painful decision which needs to be done. It is now time to put their foot down and establish a foundation for players to come.