By Ian Mendes, Sportsnet.ca
Marian Hossa is headed for the unrestricted free agent market on July 1st.
“He’s waited a long time for this opportunity to see what’s out there, despite having a phenomenal experience in Pittsburgh,” Hossa’s agent Ritch Winter told Sportsnet.ca.
Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero says his club has made a fair offer to the star winger, but Hossa would like to test the market before accepting a deal with the Penguins.
“They tell me we’re his first choice, but I believe he’s going to go to July 1st just to see what’s available,” Shero said at the end of the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa.
“I think from Marian’s standpoint, he knows the risks involved and so do we. We’ll just see where that brings us.”
Shero acquired Hossa at the NHL trade deadline in Feburary and the winger was instrumental in helping the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992.
And even though the Penguins gave up plenty of assets to land Hossa – including top prosect Angelo Esposito, forward Colby Armstrong and a first-round draft pick – Shero doesn’t hold any ill-will towards Hossa for his decision to test the market.
“Anybody who gets to this point has the right to test free agency on July 1 and if he wants to go that route, I don’t begrudge him at all,” added Shero. “It’s important for him to know that he’s our first priority as a UFA.”