Should the Pens have locked up Sid and Geno longer?
Share with others:
Q: With the 12-year deal Henrik Zetterberg signed, as well as the length of the Alexander Ovechkin and Mike Richards deals, I was wondering was it a mistake on Ray Shero's part to not give Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin similar length. I know the New York Islanders got burned (on goalie Rick DiPietro's 15-year contract), but these two are special players and a 10-year deal wouldn't be too bad, I wouldn't think, for Crosby or Malkin.
Chris Katica, Linden, N.J.
MOLINARI: Despite the obvious risks in making a long-term commitment to a player, odds are the Penguins would have been willing to sign Crosby and Malkin to deals that would run for a decade or so if that option had been presented. However, teams can't simply impose contract terms on a player -- especially world-class talents like Crosby and Malkin -- and if those guys didn't want to be tied down for more than five years, there really wasn't much the Penguins could do about it. As it is, both players surrendered a year of unrestricted free agency when they agreed to deals that will run through their eighth season in the league.
And while Zetterberg's loyalty to the Red Wings is commendable -- he certainly could have received a higher salary if he'd put himself on the open market -- the fact is that the terms of his 12-year, $73 million contract shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value.
Zetterberg is a phenomenal athlete, but his deal won't expire until he's 40 years old. Hard to believe he'd be able to justify a salary-cap hit of just over $6 million in the waning years of his deal.
However, his contract pays in excess of $7 million per season in the early years, which means he will receive a reasonably competitive wage during what should be his most productive seasons. And if he retires at a fairly average age for a top-shelf talent -- say, somewhere in his mid- to late 30s -- his contract immediately goes off the books, but only after having it designed to run for so many seasons has reduced the annual cap hit, thus giving Detroit the ability to try to retain other elite players.
That's a win-win arrangement for both sides and demonstrates a creative approach to negotiations by the front office and Zetterberg's agent, but it also makes a lot more sense for a guy who is 28 years old than one who is 21 or 22.
Q: What are your thoughts on why we rarely see a center try to score a goal off a faceoff in the opposing team's end? There are so many centers who have poor faceoff-winning percentages that you would think a good center would try to score on a faceoff and surprise the goalie.
Bob Goodman, Scituate, Mass.
MOLINARI: No matter how bad a player's faceoff numbers are, it's a pretty safe bet that they're going to be higher than the success rate the finest faceoff man in the game has when he tries to score directly off a draw.
A lot of things have to go right for a player to just win a faceoff in the conventional manner. For him to make good enough contact with the puck -- without the opposing team's guy touching it -- to launch a credible shot at the net, and to place it well enough that it eludes the goalie, is far more complicated.
Of course, it does work occasionally, but that's at least partly because it's tried so infrequently, and the element of surprise comes into play. If a center would make it a regular part of his repertoire and opposing goalies would have a pretty good idea that the puck might be headed his way almost as soon as it leaves the linesman's hand, the chances of it leading to a goal would somewhere near microscopic. Or worse.
First Published April 9, 2009 12:00 am