When Sidney Crosby signed his last contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins he did so without huge fanfare, while signing for a large amount of money over a significant period of time. Some wondered why the Penguins took the risk given Crosby’s recent history but the fact remained, the Penguins locked up arguably the best center in hockey.
While signing on the dotted line, Crosby left dollars on the table. Whether it would have been with Pittsburgh or elsewhere Crosby could have named his price to all 30 NHL clubs (yes Crosby haters, ALL 30) and each team would have begged him to sign. In a financial world where Crosby could have signed for an annual cap hit of $12.86m (20% of the current cap) he signed for a cap hit of 8.7m. Not chump change for sure but clearly money ‘given up’.
When Crosby signed on the dotted line he clearly cashed in (a twelve year extension worth an 8.7m cap hit is clearly ‘cashing in’) but he also made sure the club were given some financial wiggle room. He notably didn’t take the maximum contract on offer and in doing so set the tone for others within the franchise to perhaps do the same.
It can be reasonably argued that in signing his new deal Crosby helped the club retain Malkin, Letang, Dupuis and other cornerstone players. Boy did the Rangers give up on Pascal Dupuis too early? (A post for another day). The point here is this: Derek Stepan is fighting for as much term and dollars as he can get and Henrik Lundqvist’s essential contract extension remains unresolved.
Lundqvist doesn’t owe the Rangers franchise much – if anything – given his dedicated service, talent and consistency but by not demanding maximum money (or for that matter, term) Lundqvist can prove he is a leader off the ice as well as on the ice even if he deserves whatever salary he demands. While the Rangers don’t (currently) face a significant amount of cap commitments long term, any ‘favour’ by a player such as Lundqvist would afford the club essential cap space and manoeuvrability to build the best roster possible.
How Lundqvist’s new contract looks will tell us a lot about his priorities moving forward. Talent aside, it’s not often Sidney Crosby can be looked at as an example, particularly by rival clubs such as the Rangers. However Crosby made a commitment to the Penguins that meant the club could well be a contender for another decade. Henrik Lundqvist could do the same for the Rangers. Only time will tell.