Monday, June 16, 2008

Signing Hossa wouldn't mean losing Malkin

A lot has stirred up recently regarding the Penguins contract situation, the hockey world is eyeing Pittsburgh especially as word has come out the Pens are interested in making a serious offer to retain Marian Hossa.

If, as Evgeni Malkin mentioned himself, his deal is at or below what Sidney Crosby got (5 years, $43.5 million or $8.7 million cap hit) then the Pens are in good shape. Most observers previously said Malkin was going to take $9-10 million a year to sign. If he, hypothetically, signs for about $8.5 million he and Crosby would have combined to leave about $4.0 million dollars on the table for the Penguins to spend on others.*

*Each player can sign for 20% of the salary cap, so Crosby could have gotten about $10.3 million a year if he demanded the max, and if the cap rises, as expected, to about $56 million, Malkin could demand no more than $11.2 million a year.

The additional $4 million in savings is the difference between keeping a guy like Ryan Malone and keeping a guy like Hossa.

Can the Penguins afford to have four players (Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Whitney) hogging up about $28-29 million and still have to worry about long-term deals for Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal? Probably. Is it a wise idea? Who knows. The easiest comparision to make is Tampa Bay, who won a Cup but then fell apart with so much of their budget dedicated to a few players. But Tampa was about $11 million under the Cap last year, they were having an ownership sale and obviously were trying to keep liability and costs down to make them more attractive to potential owners.

So our buddy Greg at Puck Daddy suggests that Hossa could be the beginning of the end for Malkin's tenure in Pittsburgh. We don't buy it. James Mirtle MD does point out the reality of signing a few means not much of the pie to round out the team, but we think this is managable as well. Players on entry-level deals are the key. They usually come in around $600,000 and guys like Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang did well for the Pens this season. In years to come, if the drafting/developing continues, this trend could continue as well.

Looking around the league, dedicating a large chunk of your cap to your important players is becoming a trend. New York Rangers have $21.8 million of their cap allocated to three players (Gomez, Drury and Lundqvist) through 2011-12, the Flyers have $28 million going to five players (Briere, Hartnell, Gagne, Richards, Timonen) through 2010-11 and Ottawa's on the hook for $19 million for their "Big 3".

Given the choice of those players, wed rather have the Pens nucleus. Things will slide into place, we'll just have to see how it turns out. Even if Pittsburgh has offered Hossa and extension and has planned to move on without Malone, none of it has been written in stone just yet.

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