Hossa's future with Pens is cloudy

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

Ray Shero gave up a large package for Marian Hossa at the trade deadline but acknowledged Hossa could be a pricey part-timer for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I'm not sure, to be honest with you," Shero said during a conference call yesterday when he was asked if he expects Hossa to be back with the club next season. "I don't know. If I had to look into a crystal ball, it would be a little cloudy.

"He is not a guy in the spotlight here when we have (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin. (But) there's nothing we have in place with (Hossa) moving forward."

Hossa, acquired by Shero from the Atlanta Thrashers for forward Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round pick this spring, is slated to be an unrestricted free agent July 1. Hossa made $7 million US this season, but might need to have a strong post-season to get a salary increase. In 55 career playoff games, Hossa has just 13 goals and 22 assists.

The Penguins should finish with more than 100 points for the second season in a row. But Shero, who would like to sign Hossa, does not foresee a repeat of last spring when the Pens had a short playoff life, losing in five games in the first round to the Ottawa Senators. There is no clear-cut favourite in the Eastern Conference.

"Our expectation is to really be a tough team to play against in the playoffs," Shero said. "We're all hopeful that our younger players learned something in terms of preparation, intensity and sacrifice."

FROST IN FLORIDA

The strained relationship between Florida Panthers captain Olli Jokinen and general manager/coach Jacques Martin took a few more hits this week, and it's almost certain the two won't survive another season together.

When told that Jokinen accepted blame after a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Martin said: "I look back and the past 19 games he has not scored even-strength and he's a minus."

On Thursday night during a loss to Atlanta, Jokinen was minus-3 and demoted to the third line. Jokinen is minus-20, by far the worst mark on the Panthers.

A betting man could make some money by putting a large wad of cash on one of two things -- that Jokinen is traded in the summer or Martin is fired. It's knowing which one to gamble on that can't yet be answered.

ICE CHIPS

Despite the shenanigans with Patrick Roy and his son in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past week, the general belief is Roy will one day coach in the NHL if that's the path he wants to take ... Guy Carbonneau has credited Alexei Kovalev with the Montreal Canadiens' excellent season, but Carbonneau is considered a leading candidate to be named coach of the year ... Roberto Luongo's teammates supported his decision to leave the Vancouver Canucks in the midst of a playoff race to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's first child Thursday night in Florida. Luongo was scheduled to be back between the pipes last night against the Minnesota Wild. "It's a no-brainer and Roberto has to be there (for the birth)," Brendan Morrison said.


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