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Following a great Stanley Cup Finals, the NHL and its followers gear themselves up for the transfer season. Among the big 2009 UFA's are Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Joe Sakic, Saku Koivu, and Nikolai Khabibulin.
First of all, the Minnesota Wild are expected to be busy with two players in the above list. Slovakian winger Marian Gaborik is expected to seek greener pastures but with the new coach and GM—along with the likelihood of Saku Koivu to join his brother Mikko on the Wild—could also be a factor to possibly lure Gaborik back to Saint Paul.
Marian Hossa decided to sign a one-year deal with Detroit over a long-term lucrative deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins and now he could be out of Detroit. The Red Wings don't want to sign Hossa short term again so the Wings are going to go big or go home when it comes to Marian Hossa. If Hossa signs a long term deal with Detroit, he will retire in the Motor City but if he does test the market he could get offers from one year to seven years in length.
There could be many teams interested for Hossa's services, some of which consist of of: Boston and Calgary. Both the Bruins and the Flames could finish off their first lines with a great sniper at winger.
Nikolai Khabibulin is at a good but young team in Chicago. Offensively, the Blackhawks have guys like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews locked up but Kris Versteeg and Martin Havlat could be free agents this season. My personal opinion is that if Versteeg and Havlat sign long-term deals, Khabibulin will follow them with a long-term contract to remain the man between the pipes at the United Center.
Also, NHL stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Rick Nash will be entering contract years and if they choose to play out the year with only one year left on their deal they could have two options: The teams could shop them for more young talent or the clubs could wait until the end of the year to re-sign them. Either way it will be very interesting to see how these stars perform in contract year.
Last of all, Detroit will either make or break their future with this offseason because if they keep on signing older players they could be in for an instant collapse pretty soon. They should be able to learn that young teams like the Penguins succeed because of their depth, which Detroit has, and their ability to skate hard and scrap, which Detroit does not have.
It should be an interesting offseason but keep one thing in mind: Just because you win the offseason doesn't mean you will win the Cup; just ask the Red Wings.