“One thing certain after Ovechkin's 13-year, $124 million deal: Pittsburgh ain't hanging onto Evgeni Malkin, not if they want to pay the rest of the Penguins more than the league minimum. Luckily for Pittsburgh, Jordan Staal has stalled this year, retarding his contract curve somewhat. The reality of the CBA is --barring a huge spike in league revenues -- you can't pay two young players at the very top of the salary grid for long and remain competitive. So the Blackhawks, Kings, Caps and Flyers have tough choices to make on their young stars.”
Bruce Dowbiggin, everyone!
The CBA states that players on their entry level deals (such as Malkin) may not negotiate an extension until after the second season is played. So Geno can’t even put his pen to a paper (let alone carry on a meaningful negotiation) for six more months and voices are already predicting his departure. Voices, of course, from north of the border who also predicted that Ovechkin would flee as soon as he could and some nutballs even thought Sidney Crosby would probably use his leverage to get to Montreal as soon as possible. We mean this as no offense to our many Canadian friends, most of whom are totally rationale and good folks (mostly). Not sayin’, just sayin’: get your own Canada.
May we remind Mr. Dowbiggin that Pittsburgh has under $19 million in salaries on the books for the 2009-10 season. It is true to point out that only four players are under contract (Crosby, Ryan Whitney, Sergei Gonchar [last year of his contract], and Kris Letang). But the point is; a team like Philly already has $33 million spoken for on just 7 players in the 2009-10 season and Toronto has $30.2 million worth of salaries invested on ten players. Pittsburgh has but $19 million tied up.
So there will be plenty of room. Even assuming Malkin gets on a contract in the Spezza/Thornton/Heatley neighborhood (putting his average salary $7 - $7.5 million) there’s still a ton of cap room to round out a solid team, and not league minimum players as Dowbiggin suggested.
The fact is, Ray Shero has set the team up perfectly for re-siging Malkin and the rest of the core players. He doesn't give UFAs 5, 6, 7 year deals like some other teams. His veteran signings this year were all of the one or two year variety (Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi, Darryl Sydor, Petr Sykora). It's rumored the Penguins had real interest in some flashy players like Paul Kariya (3 years $18 million to STL) or defenseman Scott Hannan ($18 million for 4 years to COL where he's a team worst -9 by the way) but Shero wasn't tempted to match/exceed open market value.
So basically the Penguins have all the room in the world. Blowhards like Dowbiggin have fallen back on Malkin now that Ovechkin will forever be their white whale.
As a closing thought, isn't it funny how they never speculate a club like the Florida Panthers might gear up to make an offer sheet for, I don't know, say Dion Phaneuf but have no problems envisioning every skill player in the league playing in Canada?