Sidney Crosby may have a new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the 2012-13 season. Rumors on Twitter (source) are reporting that Crosby may sign a new contract that would keep him with the Penguins for an additional 10 seasons. The same source believes that Crosby's cap hit would weigh in at $9 million a season, or in other words, be a 10-year, $90 million deal.
If these numbers prove to be accurate, are the Penguins getting a good deal or paying a bit too much for Crosby? Are they taking too big of a risk by extending their star given his recent history of serious injuries?
As always, it's important to take these rumors with a grain (or boulder) of salt. However, this sort of rumor likely holds elements of truth as Crosby will need a new contract with the Penguins and it likely will be a massive one. It seems unlikely, if not impossible, that the Penguins won't extend Crosby. It also seems extremely unlikely that a new deal will be shorter than a handful of years. The Penguins want to lock up their star and they want to do it without the topic weighing over their 2012-13 regular season.
As it stands, 2012-13 is the final year of Crosby's five-year, $43.5 million contract. His five-year deal had an annual hit against the cap of $8.7 million while his salary ranged from $9 million in the first four years of the deal to $7.5 million in 2012-13.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to avoid or minimalize any distractions that might develop if they were to wait and decide Crosby's future during or after the 2012-13 season. In this regard, giving him a new deal now would make a lot of sense. However, the tactic of signing Crosby prior to 2012-13 carries with it plenty of risk. Crosby played in just 22 games in 2011-12. He appeared in just 41 games in 2010-11. Crosby's lingering concussion symptoms plagued 2011-12 and raise the question whether or not he will ever be able to completely shake the injury. He appeared to be fine in Pittsburgh's abbreviated playoff run but it's still quite possible that issues might once again creep up during the grueling stretches of the regular season.
Consider the situation with David Perron and the St. Louis Blues. Perron suffered a similar injury that sidelined him for over a year between the 2010-11 and the 2011-12 seasons. The Blues waited to see how Perron recovered before discussing his contract, opting to wait until this summer. The two sides have yet to reach a deal but the Blues at least know more about Perron's injury than they did at any stage of 2011-12.
The Penguins may not have the luxury of waiting to give Crosby a new deal. They might have to take a big risk in signing their star to a new, lengthy deal without having all of the information they might need to make an educated decision. Crosby does have one year left on his deal. Theoretically, the team could wait to make a decision on his contract until after the 2012-13 season and base the amount of years and money off of whether or not Crosby is able to stay 100% healthy. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Crosby's status as the NHL's top player will likely force them into making a decision where they won't have all the answers.
Let's just hope this doesn't evolve into a "Rick DiPietro" situation.
What do you think about Crosby's rumored 10-year, $90ish million contract? Is it too long? Too expensive? Should the Penguins wait to see how Crosby holds up in 2012-13?
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I don't see how they can possibly give him a 10 year deal... not with his injury history, at least. Does the NHL have "Team Option" years? If so, then it makes a ton more sense. But it just seems awfully risky for someone that might have to retire at any time.
For me, I look askance at basically any decade-long contract, unless a team is locking up a young (sub-25) obvious superstar for the long term, and is preferably able to hedge their bets monetarily at the same time. Ten years is an awful long time to have a player under contract in any sport, especially in a high-contact sport like hockey. Giving such a deal, in terms of length of years, to a player with a history of significant injury (concussions especially) seems a whole lot like playing Russian roulette.
Value of contract is a whole different can of worms. In this instance, Pittsburgh isn't really looking to up Crosby's dollars per year or cap hit very significantly. The idea that they could actually get by paying him roughly the same money as his past contract is mildly surprising to me, in this age of ever-inflating sports contracts. So, looked at from that direction, if length of contract was the price that Crosby wanted to come back at a (relative) discount, Pittsburgh may get about the best they could expect out of a new contract on these terms.
It's interesting in general to see teams trying to get their houses in order before the new CBA comes down. At this point, it's a guessing game as to what the eventual outcome is going to be, and what impact that will have on salary structures and the cap. Certainly team ownerships have a general idea of what they want that structure to be, but what they're eventually going to get the players to agree to may be a very different animal indeed.