There was nothing conservative about the day's two biggest deals in the NHL, but despite the risks, signing Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Quick should prove even more prudent for the Penguins and Kings, respectively.
And there are risks. Crosby agreed to a 12-year, $104.4 million deal that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2024-25 season. Crosby was set to enter the final season of five-year, $43.5 million deal, will maintain an identical $8.7 million cap hit for the additional 12 years he's now committed to play in Pittsburgh.
By not demanding a raise on his annual salary, Crosby likely left some money on the table and gives the Penguins some extra cap space to try to lock up fellow stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang when they are up for new deals after the 2013-14 season and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2014-15 season.
In exchange, the Penguins have to hope that Crosby can stay healthy for the length of that deal. That's far from a sure thing. Crosby doesn't turn 25 until August 7, but has missed 101 games over the last two seasons because of concussion-related issues, while playing just 63. He's shown that he can still dominate when on the ice, putting up 40-63-103 totals in those 63 games, but keeping him on the ice could be a challenge.
Getting that deal insured with such risks might be even tougher. Penguins general manager Ray Shero did not discuss the insurance issues in Thursday's news conference, but made it clear he was willing to take the risk to keep the game's top star in Pittsburgh.
"Our goal this summer was to sign Sidney Crosby and make him a member of the Penguins for life," Shero said. "Hopefully that's going to do that."
The Kings were equally eager to lock up their franchise player. Like Crosby, Quick wasn't slated to hit free agency until after the upcoming season. But following a historic postseason run that led to a Conn Smythe Trophy and the first Cup in franchise history, the Kings weren't going to let Quick get anywhere near the open market.
Quick's extension is reported to be worth $58 million over 10 years, a $5.8 million cap hit that represents a healthy bump up from his current $1.8 million. While Quick came to national prominence with his stellar postseason (16-4, 1.41 GAA, .946 save percentage), he's hardly a one-hit wonder.
He was similarly impressive in the regular season when he went 35-21-15 with a 1.95 GAA and a .929 save percentage, and that was the third straight year he improved his GAA and save percentage in a run that began with a franchise-record 39 wins in 2009-10.
The UMass-Amherst product and Milford, Conn. native is also just 26, so it is feasible that he can maintain his effectiveness throughout the lengthy term of the extension. Still, there is risk here as well.
There's a reason this contract is just the third deal of 10 or more years for a goaltender. The first two haven't exactly worked out, with Rick DiPietro injured through much of the first six years of a 15-year contract that runs through 2020-21 and the Canucks struggling to unload Roberto Luongo's 12-year, $64-million deal through 2021-22 after he was unseated by Cory Schneider.
The Kings now have four players locked up to massive long-term deals. Forwards Mike Richards (12 years, $69 million through 2019-20) and Jeff Carter (11 years, $58 million through 2021-22) actually signed those deals in Philadelphia, while the Kings signed defenseman Drew Doughty (8 years, $56 million through 2018-19) themselves. That will either keep a frightening nucleus together for a chance at many more Cups, or hamstring any efforts to rebuild on the fly if things go bad.
The Kings are counting on the former, just as the Penguins are banking on remaining a contender for many more years with Crosby. And while there are always dangers with such deals, it's far more perilous to run the risk of losing those kinds of rare talents. When you're lucky enough to land a player like Crosby or Quick, the one risk you can never take is allowing them to hit the open market.
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