May 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) during the second period of game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks: Will This Be Marian Hossa’s Last Season?

Marian Hossa has only been with our beloved Chicago Blackhawks since 2010, but it’s already hard to picture the Hawks without him, and for good reason. Hossa’s arrival helped mark the end of the near 50-year-long Stanley Cup drought in Chicago, and his presence and play helped the Hawks hoist the Cup once again several years later.

Hoss has been instrumental to the Blackhawks’ success, making invaluable contributions in nearly every facet of their gameplay with his unrivaled two-way play. However, after a near twenty year career in the NHL, will the 2014-2015 season be the last time Hossa dons the indian-head sweater?

The Blackhawks understandably locked up Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for eight years at a premium price, and while the cap hit from those deals will diminish over the years, the biggest squeeze they’ll put on the Hawks’ payroll will be in the 2015-2016 season. Tough decisions will have to be made, and Marian Hossa may be one of them.

At 35, Hossa is no spring chicken, but he’s demonstrated time and again that age is just a number, and by all means looks very likely to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Gordy Howe (or more recently Teemu Selanne) and keep producing as a player into his forties.

It’s this assumption that may make the 2014-2015 season Hossa’s last in Chi-Town. Hossa is barely halfway through the twelve-year contract he signed with the Blackhawks in 2009, which takes $5.3 million out of the cap each year. This is less than the chunk fellow forward Patrick Sharp takes out of the cap at just under $6 million a year, but at least on paper, Sharp has more upside from an age (Sharp is 32) and injury history standpoint, whereas Hossa’s age and track record of injuries make him a bit more risky to bet in the long term.

Of course Hossa may make all the aforementioned moot by simply retiring after next season, but Hoss strikes me as one of those players that harbors a deep love for the game of hockey and will keep skating as long as his body allows. Plus, Hossa is coming off a strong, 60 point season, indicating he’s got more than enough fuel left in the tank.

Even so, Hoss may end up running out his gauge elsewhere. The prospect may seem frightening, but the silver lining here is Hossa’s heir apparent Brandon Saad is coming off one of his best seasons as a Blackhawk and his potential seems endless. Saad will be a restricted free agent next season, so it’ll be interesting to see if Hawks GM Stan Bowman agrees Saad is Hossa incarnate by how many zeros and years are in Saad’s contract.

What do you think of Hossa’s future?

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