Length to be key part of Crosby's deal
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Getting the Sidney Crosby contract talks going again might take longer than the actual negotiations will.
Pat Brisson, one of Crosby's agents, and Penguins general manager Ray Shero had considered resuming their discussions towards the end of this week but have decided to put them off until early next week.
There is, however, no real urgency for the sides to talk about Crosby's next contract, because his current one runs through 2007-08. That means any deal negotiated won't take effect until the following season.
While most attention will focus on how much money Crosby will receive -- he is entitled to 20 percent of the current salary-cap ceiling of $50.3 million, which translates to $10.06 million per season -- the contract's length will be significant, too, with four years as the over-under point.
If his next contract runs four years, it would expire just as Crosby becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency, although the Penguins would be able to begin working on a replacement a year before the contract ends.
If it is for fewer than four years, the Penguins would hold onto his rights for at least one more contract before he qualifies to be unrestricted, per the league's labor agreement. If Crosby accepts a deal for more than four, he will be pass on a chance to venture into unrestricted free agency at the earliest opportunity.
Crosby said Wednesday that he is not locked into a specific number of years on his next deal.
While most indications are that Crosby won't seek the maximum salary he is entitled to earn, it is reasonable to believe he will exceed the standard set by two accomplished veterans who re-signed with their teams this week rather than waiting a year to explore unrestricted free agency.
Center Joe Thornton accepted a three-year deal worth an average of $7.2 million from San Jose, while Calgary winger Jarome Iginla signed a seven-year contract worth an average of $7 million per season.
Because he wants to leave the Penguins enough money to sign other core players as their contracts expire while still getting enough that his deal doesn't suppress other players' earning potential, an arrangement that would pay him more than the Thornton and Iginla deals but less than the league maximum seems likely.
One option he apparently won't exercise is to put off the negotiations for another year.
If the salary-cap ceiling rises over the coming season, the value of the 20 percent a player can ask for would go up, too, but that doesn't have any appeal to Crosby.
"I think I'd like to [get it done now]," he said.
How long it will take to hammer out the particulars isn't clear, though, and Crosby is wary of predicting how quickly much time the negotiations will require.
"I really don't know how it's going to go," he said. "There's interest from both sides to get it done."
With a year left on his contract, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins can take some time to negotiate a new deal.
First Published July 5, 2007 11:32 pm