As you've probably seen by now, the NHL and the players association announced that the upper limit for 2008-09 salaries for each team is $56.7 millon dollars.
A player can be signed for a maximum of 20% of the upper limit so Sidney Crosby, who would have been a restricted free agent this summer, could have commanded no more than $11.34 million a season.
Crosby, of course, signed with the Pens last summer for five years and $43.5 million dollars ($8.7 million a season). Players extended have to finish their existing contracts, so Sid played on the final year of his entry level contract in 2007-08; this coming season will be the first where his cap hit is $8.7. If he wanted to stretch the negotiations to find out what his maximum would be, he could have demanded $11.34 million from the Pens right now. And they would have obliged without blinking. Or he could have become a RFA and received an offer-sheet of likely epic proportions from any number of teams.
But Crosby didn't take any of those paths. He locked in to the Penguins taking less than what he could have in large part to ensure the team could have a little more flexibility in filling out the roster around him. Crosby, ever the selfless, humble person and with his mature-beyond-his-years demeanor seemed to realize that if he took the most of the pie that he could take, there wouldn't be enough to even talk about retaining a guy like Hossa and still hope to keep all of Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury. At the same time, Crosby is a member of the union and realized that if he accepted too little money it could be used as a glass ceiling for his peers league wide and could keep the amount his brothers got down. Plus dude's trying to get paid and he's basically the face of the league, put in all the marketing campaigns. It's not like he doesn't deserve to be compensated accordingly.
As of now, if Crosby signed five years at $11.34 million it would have been the $56.7 million figure. His overall contract is $43.5, saving the Pens more than $13 million over the life of the deal ($2.64 million a season). And that's assuming that the cap--which has risen every year as league revenues continue to climb, remained at 2008-09 values.
Just something to think about as Penguin free agent properties like Marian Hossa and Brooks Orpik (who've both publicly talked about taking less money or wanting to stay) explore free agency to what would amount to probably gaining a couple million over the life of a contract from another team on the market...It's easy to talk the talk but Crosby has walked the walk by actually putting a pen to the paper to make it official.
Another franchise player that seemingly is about to do the same is Evgeni Malkin. Malkin can't sign until July 1, but if, as indicated, he gives the Penguins about the same break as Crosby the "sacrifice" (if you can call making that much money a sacrifice) will be virtually doubled. The Pens will have essentially have $22.68 million dollars (max contract times two) worth of superstar locked in for the set price of about $17.5 million dollars...That's a discount of 23% and over $5 million dollars in 2008-09 cap space. And as the salary cap seemingly will continue to rise in the future, the discounts the Pens received will only continue to grow.