By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)
[Make sure to check out our podcast recapping Pens season and detailing 10 things the Pens need to do in the offseason]
The Penguins have announced that they've signed Evgeni Malkin to an 8-year, $76 million contract extension. He will have a salary cap hit of $9.5 million, which is the second highest cap hit in the league behind Alex Ovechkin (by a mere $38,000). It's $800,000 more per year than Sidney Crosby, but the total value of the contract is $28.4 million less than Sid's deal.
A few quick thoughts after the jump...
1) This is A LOT of money to be investing in two guys, especially two guys who play the same position and whose utility overlaps at least somewhat on the power play. However, it's still a good contract. Not many teams have the opportunity to have the two of the very best players in the league locked up for the next 8 years at a price that, while expensive, is not cripplingly so.
2) The cap drops to approximately $64 million this coming season, during which Geno will be on the last year of his current deal paying him $8.7 million/year. There's no question that the Pens expect the salary cap to begin increasing quickly and significantly. The fact that ratings for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals were the highest in 16 years is a pretty encouraging sign that will happen.
3) Geno better age well. Sometimes a player dramatically falls off the map, either temporarily (like Ovechkin) or possibly permanently (like Brad Richards, also a former Conn Smythe winner). The concern is not whether Geno can justify a $9.5 million/year cap hit over the next three or four years, but whether he can adapt his game as he ages so that he doesn't become cap-crippling baggage.
4) Speaking of Ovechkin, it's perfect that this deal means Ovechkin remains the highest paid player against the cap in the league. There's a unique pressure that comes along with that title. Better him than Geno.
5) But Geno isn't off the hook in this regard. Whether deserved or not, there's going to be more pressure on him than ever now that he counts more against the cap than Sidney Crosby. It's not going to be enough that Geno elevates his game in Sid's absence, and it's not going to be enough that he generates 20 shots in a playoff game. He just has to bury it. And bury it often.
We're all now in it for the long haul with 87 and 71. It's a good place to be. Now do the Geno Shuffle.