The musings are a day late today, but that’s only because all of the big news happened yesterday. Don’t blame us, blame everyone else for not making all this stuff happen before Thursday. I swear, everyone else is to blame, not us!
So Sidney Crosby gets $104.4 million over 12 years. From a hockey standpoint, that is a very risky contract. Crosby has had significant concussion issues, and could be one poorly placed hit away from early retirement. From a business standpoint, it’s a savvy investment in the face of the franchise. For an average of $8.7 million per season, the Pens get to keep their boy in Pittsburgh and reap the marketing benefits of having him there. They make more off him than he does off them, that’s for sure.
Now that Zach Parise is essentially off the table, you might be tempted to look ahead to the 2013 free agent class for potential offensive infusions for the Rangers’ lineup. If you began to peruse the pages of CapGeek, your jaw might have dropped when you saw a potential group of unrestricted free agent forwards that could include a guy named Sidney Crosby.
Corey Perry is on the list, as are Ryan Getzlaf, Jarome Iginla, Jordan Staal, Scott Hartnell, Ryan Clowe, Joffrey Lupul, Valtteri Filppula, Patrik Elias, Nathan Horton, Travis Zajac, Mike Ribiero, David Clarkson, Stephen Weiss, Derek Roy, Teddy Purcell, and Viktor Stalberg.
You might be tempted to start wondering which of these guys could be worth pursuing, thinking that this year’s free agent crop feels like slim pickings and that Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan will be too costly on the trade market.
Of course, you should realize that most of these guys will ink new deals this year with their current teams. You have a better chance of getting invited to one of Glen Sather’s golf outings than you do of seeing Crosby actually discussing a contract with another team.
The return of Sidney Crosby promptly ended the Rangers mini-winning streak as the Pens dropped the Rangers tonight 5-2 at Madison Square Garden. The Blue shirt’s Jekyll and Hyde play in this game ultimately was their undoing. There was a lot of positives to take away from this game as well as quite a few negatives. To the bullets…
The Rangers started off the game trying to establish a physical presence. Boyle and Prust were targeting Malkin relentlessly. Unfortunately, that physical edge would not last long.
It seemed like the Rangers were getting their bearings for the first half of the period. They almost needed to prove to themselves that they could skate with Pittsburgh.
Tough bounce on the Pen’s first goal. Biron made a nice pad save and the rebound went off the crossbar, off Bickel and into the net. 1-0 Penguins.
The PK unit looked great in the first. They were all over Crosby at the point and not allowing the wingers to gain possession along the sidewalls.
Carl Hagelin was able to pot a rebound chance off a scramble in front to tie the score at the 13:36 mark. That line was at it again. 1-1.
Marty Biron had a rock solid first period, with great saves on several Penguins chances.
Carl Hagelin was the best player on the ice (non-Malkin addition) in the first period and continued his strong play into the second. He was a forechecking machine and created several turnovers in the offensive zone.
James Neal had a tremendous individual effort on Malkin’s goal. He stripped the puck from Ryan McDonagh and made a fantastic pass to Malkin on the doorstep to give the Pens the lead. 2-1 Pittsburgh.
1:12 later, Matt Cooke put the Pens up by a pair. Broken defensive coverage allowed Cooke to sneak in the far side for basically an empty net goal. Gabby got caught in no man’s land on the back check. 3-1 Pens.
The Rangers got some chances in the latter half of the second. Marc-Andre Fleury had an unbelievable glove save on Marian Gaborik, and Brandon Prust followed that up by banging one off the crossbar.
The Rangers would pull within one with about five and a half minutes to go in the second. Gaborik made a terrific back pass on a give and go to Brad Richards and eventually found himself in the slot and buried the shot under Fleury’s right arm. 3-2 Penguins.
Late in the second period, the Ranger’s lost Artem Anisimov with an upper body injury sustained on a body check. He would not return for the remainder of the game.
Play was a little timid to start the third. The teams started out 4-on-4 before the Penguins would eventually see the last minute or so of the double minor to Stu Bickel assessed at the end of the second. The Rangers did a nice job killing the penalty, but as it was expiring, Brian Boyle blocked a shot that left him limping. It was essentially a 5-on-3 as Bickel raced from the box and Chris Kunitz was able to beat Marty Biron over his right shoulder off a feed from Crosby. 4-2 Penguins.
The Penguins would put the final nail in the coffin several minutes later after Pascal Dupuis banged home a rebound that Biron probably should have controlled or deflected. 5-2 Penguins.
The Rangers had several good chances in the final 6 minutes or so but Marc Andre Fleury had a couple ridiculous saves.
Marc Andre Fleury was terrific tonight, making 29 saves. He quashed several good scoring chances the Rangers (mostly the Hagelin-Richards-Gaborik line) created. His glove was a major weapon tonight.
Marty Biron obviously faired a little worse than Fleury in this one. Overall, I thought he played pretty well though. The first goal was a brutal bounce and there was very little he could have done on the Malkin and Cooke goals. The rebound on Dupuis’ goal and his positioning on Kunitz was a little sketchy, but he battled and made some nice saves for the team.
Although the result is not what we were all looking for, it wasn’t as bad as the score would indicate. Considering the absences of Lundqvist, Callahan and Del Zotto, the Rangers could have played much, much worse.
That said, the Rangers lost this game when they stopped forechecking and maintaining their physical edge. The only line that was really doing much of anything offensively was the new top unit.
Too many wide shots tonight. When your opportunities are limited, you need to at least force the goalie to make a save.
Kris Letang was +5 tonight.
McDonagh had a rough game. He saw Staal take his spot on the top pair after the Malkin goal and made a few questionable decisions as the game went along. Hopefully he can put it behind him and come out strong against Colorado.
The secondary scoring has to start to come with some consistency. The Stepan-Dubi-Anisimov line has to be better than they were tonight. They showed flashes of promise, but they need to put it together consistently.
Even though Crosby’s line did some damage, I actually thought they defended him personally pretty well.
Health is so unbelievably important down the stretch into the playoffs. This team needs Cally/Hank/DZ back asap.
Off tomorrow then the red hot Avalanche come to town Saturday night.
Brandon Dubinsky is not a $4.2m hockey player. Sorry, but amid all the Dubi love (of which I have plenty myself) it seems to be forgotten that the market is still inflated and the Rangers forward is another grateful beneficiary both in the dollar and length he received.
I must apologise though, as that first line was simply an instigator, inciting comment if you will. Brandon Dubinsky IS a $ 4.2m hockey player in this market. The problem though is that too many secondary scorers are getting a lot of money and insane term. Likely to be even worse than Dubinsky’s deal, will be Ryan Callahan’s new pact. Callahan is a great player for the Rangers; I’m obviously not disputing that. A leader, a defensively responsible, courageous forward but relatively limited offensively. Should ‘intangibles’ warrant a big pay day?
I hate to agree with Brian Burke (there’s only so much I can hear the word truculent) but the Leafs GM is right – to an extent – when he repeatedly bemoans several of the contracts being tossed around the league recklessly; but it does all come back to supply and demand. Dubinsky in particular is a worthy case to discuss. Blessed with size and a healthy dose of skill, as well as a ton of experience at a young age; despite all this Dubinsky still isn’t really a top line player on most teams – fact. However, due to the increasingly limited availability of genuine talent (of which this summer’s free agency period was exhibit A) Dubinsky would have made more this summer had he been available for offers.
As you can see, this post is perhaps less about the generous Dubinsky/Callahan deals and more about the general managers who give out 12 year deals to players such as Mike Richards or 9 year deals to players such as Ilya Bryzgalov… good players but not genuinely elite players. I have always had a preference for shorter terms deals because it keeps an element of pressure on the player to earn the next deal. Even with a legitimately elite center like Brad Richards, my main concern with acquiring him was whether he’d still be hungry half way in to a decade long deal. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I’m not an expert in the business side of the NHL (I guess that’s Suit’s forte) but one thing that I will be watching particularly closely in the next deal is the presence of a maximum contract length. It needs to go further than just a number though. If the Rangers give Ryan McDonagh the maximum 5 year deal when the time arrives to sign him up they should not be able to re-negotiate until at least half way in to the deal, or something on those lines.
What I mean is that there needs to be measures in place to make sure the league doesn’t have free agency periods like this year when good players got great contracts and average players also got far too much. The NHL has a hard time competing with the other major leagues as it is so providing frequent player movement, spectacular trades and free agent signings helps the league elbow itself in to the limelight occasionally. Does anyone outside of hockey circles care that Ville Leino got 4.5m a year from Buffalo? Hell no, but I bet there’d be plenty of website clicks if Sid Crosby or Alex Ovechkin made it to free agency.
I have never liked Sidney Crosby. Yes, he is skilled, and a great leader for the Penguins, but he is a diver and a complainer. He has the attitude of a soccer player, and not of a hockey player. However, prior to last night, I never once thought he was a dirty player. He dives, he complains, but he never once made a dirty or dangerous play (that I know of), which is something that can’t be said for some current Rangers, and half the NHL. Of course, Crosby went and slew-footed Ryan Callahan in last night’s game, with video below:
On the play, Callahan was given an interference penalty. That’s not the issue here. The issue is that Crosby made a dirty and dangerous play, and it will go unpunished because he is the NHL’s poster boy. A slew-foot is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the ice, short of swinging your stick like a baseball bat. If the NHL’s justice system were fair, then this situation would at least be “investigated.”
I am trying not to be biased in this post. I really am. However, it is painfully clear that Sidney Crosby slew-footed Callahan, and should face punishment. If it’s not a suspension, fine him. It is a dangerous play to a player that is very important to the Rangers. Naturally though, this won’t even be reviewed.