That Sidney Crosby would be getting a contract extension from the Pittsburgh Penguins was a given. So was the fact that the contract would be a mammoth one: Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports reported on June 9 that the average annual salary would be in the neighborhood of $9 million per season, up from $8.7 million in his current deal that ends next summer.
On Thursday, Darren Dreger of TSN reported that Crosby's new contract will be formally announced on Sunday.
The Penguins confirmed the details later in the day: $104.4 million over 12 years.
"This is a great day for hockey and tremendous news for the Pittsburgh Penguins and our fans," co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a joint statement. "We are grateful for all that Sidney Crosby has done for our franchise since coming to Pittsburgh in 2005, both on and off the ice, and we look forward to having him in a Penguins uniform for the rest of his career. He is an excellent player and an even better person, and he is a great ambassador for the Penguins and for Pittsburgh."
The deal works out to the same $8.7 million cap hit the numerically obsessed Crosby has now.
Penguins GM Ray Shero doesn't like to massively frontload contacts — consider the Evgeni Malkin and James Neal deals — but to the surprise of no one Crosby's contract will be heavily frontloaded, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun. It's the last summer this practice might be allowed under the CBA.
(And it makes you wonder of Shero would go down that road again with a player like Zach Parise, given that teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild will pump major cash into the opening years of their offers to the free-agent winger.)
Under the current rules, Crosby could earn over $14 million in an individual year of his contract. The two highest paid players in base salary in the NHL right now are Brad Richards of the New York Rangers and Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres, each at $12 million.
The highest cap hit is Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, at $9.538.462. Yes, the 13-year deal he signed in 2008 will still carry a higher cap hit than Crosby's in 2013. (Keep in mind Shero has to sign Evgeni Malkin is a new deal before Summer 2015.)
It's a risk to take for the team, who will have a whale of a time insuring the biggest contract in franchise history, but then again, financially as we've said here time and time again, it's not a risk at all. Sidney Crosby is a cash cow and a cottage industry for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL at large. Even if he can't play 82 games a season, he can and will be a focal point of the team's marketing and merchandising campaigns and the club will easily recoup his salary, many times over.
His injury history will always be a concern. But he's a $100 million-plus player, and shall be compensated as one.