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PHN Blog: Comparing Bergeron & Malkin Contracts, Penguins Have Options

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin, Patrice Bergeron

Every so often, a reader will toss out an opinion, or buried within a comment is a nugget that merits more exploration. Such a moment happened on Monday as the Boston Bruins finally inked center Patrice Bergeron to a one-year contract. Bergeron is 36 years old but remains one of the premier centers in the game and a perennial Selke vote-getter. He signed for much less money, and term than the Pittsburgh Penguins agreed to pay Evgeni Malkin.

интересно (Interesting).

Here’s the full Bergeron and David Krejci signing story from our boys who cover the Boston Bruins.

The contract is $2.5 million for one-year, face value, but has another $2.5 million of incentives built into it.

Malkin, of course, signed for four years at an average valuation of $6.1 million, which was like pulling teeth. The news didn’t break until after 10 p.m. the night before free agency. The day before, sources told our Dave Molinari that negotiations had broken down and Evgeni Malkin would indeed test the free agent market.

Heck, maybe later this month, we’ll publish Shelly Anderson’s pre-written stories. In addition to one ready to go if Malkin re-signed, she had one ready to go if Malkin signed elsewhere. All she had to do was plug in the team and details.

But does Bergeron’s bargain contract cast Malkin in a bad light, as some readers suggested?

It may surprise you. I won’t say yes, but I also won’t say no. The mental status of the two players seems to be completely different. Bergeron took his time to decide if he truly wanted to continue playing in the NHL. Malkin had no such hesitation, nor does Malkin view himself as 36 years old. Call it a hunch, but Malkin doesn’t view himself as old or at the end of the line. He may intellectually know it, but I have no sense that his heart feels it.

And so, his heart wants to be paid commensurate with the player he feels that he is, not a 36-year-old center who hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

Greed? No. But a much different mental position. You can determine if that puts Malkin’s contract in a bad light, but just remember–athletes get one career. When it’s over, it’s over. You and I can work until we’re 80. Not even Jaromir Jagr can play hockey that long. So, an athlete has every reason to get every last dollar on the table, especially in a final contract.

For most of a decade, Sidney Crosby and Malkin made $2-3 million less per season than Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and others; you can’t say they didn’t sacrifice for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh Penguins Blue Line Options

On Monday, we examined the Penguins’ fit with the four teams on the NHL trade market that have salary cap space to spare. The Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and Arizona Coyotes each need different things and have different agendas.

One item no one has referenced is GM Ron Hextall’s strategy of stacking depth.

He did it in net when he signed college free agent Filip Lindberg last summer despite already having Calle Clang and Joel Blomqvist in the pipeline. The depth allowed him to trade Clang to Anaheim as a featured piece in the Rickard Rakell Penguins’ trade.

This summer, he stacked the NHL blue line. Despite having P.O Joseph at the ready, Mark Friedman and Chad Ruhwedel on veteran minimum contracts, and Jan Rutta signed, Hextall slyly sniped young defenseman Ty Smith from New Jersey for John Marino.

Yes, the Pittsburgh Penguins have nine defensemen, but they have almost an infinite set of options to create their best blue line and can move one or two via the NHL trade route.

The worst that happens from the surplus is that Ty Smith goes to the WBS Penguins, or both he and Mark Friedman distance themselves from Joseph, who becomes very expendable.

Or Joseph lays waste to the competition, and Smith becomes an interesting trade chip.

Or…Rutta plays the left side.

Or…

Or…

Hextall has options. He may not like what other teams demand to move a salary or offer in return for his assets, but he can absorb a trade loss in exchange for money. Or can take another swing for a young player like Smith.

Options. Hextall clearly likes to amass depth and contingencies before he makes the leap of faith.

Sports Now PGH Links

Steelers Now — SN+: Larry O made a pad-popping statement. Since the weather forced the cancelation of the big practice at Latrobe high school on Friday, the Steelers went back on Monday. The crowd was nuts. Larry Ogunjobi made a physical statement. Pittsburgh Steelers coverage.

Alex Highsmith and Diontae Johnson left practice. Steelers injury updates.

Pittsburgh Baseball Now: The Pirates’ three stars of the week – Pittsburgh Pirates recap.

PBN+: Ok, Mr. John Perrotto and I strenuously disagree on one baseball issue. It involves steroids and those who obviously and blatantly used, even if the law never truly caught up with them. The Pirates announced their inaugural HoF class, but JP says it’s missing one big name. Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame.

And lastly, I didn’t quite make it all the way to my hotel before torrential downpours swept off the lake and pounded me on the motorcycle. I won’t say which lake or where I’m holed up for the night. My jeans are still soaked, and my shoes are drying on the AC. However, a few minutes later, all was calm before even heavier storms rolled through. I suppose these are the perils of being the one who gets to pick the location for the next business meeting but also one who never reads the weather forecast.

We’re going to try to replicate what we’ve done in Pittsburgh in a few other cities. Look out.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: With Patrice Bergeron signing a one-year, $2.5 million deal ($2.5 M in incentives) to return to the Boston Bruins, does it cast a bad light on Evgeni Malkin’s contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins? […]

Tom Tarka
Tom Tarka
1 month ago

Any thoughts on what Geno might have gotten on the open market?

Tom Tarka
Tom Tarka
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Very insightful. Thanks!

Keith T.
Keith T.
1 month ago

Well it is difficult to say that Crosby or Malkin “Sacrificed” to be Penguins with their 2012 & 2013 contracts. Ovechkin was the lone ranger in DC and Towes & Kane signed their contracts 2 years after Crosby & Malkin (in a non-flat cap era). Both circumstances are far different. And the flat Cap has prevented salaries from going even higher. I have always thought that Malkin for his production numbers in comparison to the others was overpaid. Players sign contracts and they agree to the condition as do teams. They perhaps got things that they wouldn’t have otherwise had… Read more »

DaGama
DaGama
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith T.

Over his career Letang has seemed to learn how to either avoid high injury risk situations or better protect himself when they are unavoidable. It may be time for Malkin to try and hone those skills.

Ethan
Ethan
1 month ago
Reply to  DaGama

Knee on knee happens. If you skate to avoid that kind of contact you will be half a player.

Jay95
Jay95
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith T.

I agree that Malkin doesn’t seem to have the same trajectory as Sid and Letang as he ages. But, mindset is a HUGE thing. If he thinks that he’s still a top player, he’ll want to prove that. The mindset is actually a good thing in my opinion.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith T.

He will be okay. And its not like his pay is over 8 mil like some of the other contracts that have been dished out. Frankly, i thought he looked great last season all things considered. If they get him solid wingers he will be more than a point per game.

Katz is Dumb
Katz is Dumb
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith T.

LOL. One player you mentioned is not in the same league as the others, and it is not Malkin. Toews is a good hockey player, but has been overpaid by $5+ million a year since he signed that contract. It will be nearly impossible for Chicago to trade him without retaining over half of his cap hit.

Ujn Hunter
1 month ago

Any thoughts on the Rangers naming Trouba as Captain? Heh…

Alan Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Ujn Hunter

Trouba is a marked man! McAvoy did the same stuff to Geno and he got his due the next season and made my entire season! Always has to do the unnecessary and say who me? Should be captain of the Devils!

DaGama
DaGama
1 month ago

In today’s salary climate it seems prudent to stock up on reasonably priced goalies and wide receivers.

greg
greg
1 month ago

Per Capfriendly Geno has a career earnings of 122.7 Million $. The Pens should have let him and his hurt little feelings walk. Instead we all know where this ends up. A millstone for the cap and a hard crash into a rebuild.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago
Reply to  greg

Malkin told you that he has hurt feelings? He got his extension with the team he wanted to play for. Where are you getting your information? It stands to reason if his feelings were hurt he could have taken more money and played the rest of his career for another team.

greg
greg
1 month ago

You know for sure he would get that AAV and term somewhere else? Where is your info coming from? I notice you failed to respond to the meat of my comment about him being a cap millstone. Pens fans are kind of touchy.

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[…] Does the Patrice Bergeron contract cast Evgeni Malkin in a bad light after the four-year, $24.4 million contract he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins? […]

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
1 month ago

Lets hope 71 lights up the NHL. 75 games and 100 points.
My prediction: 50 games and 40 points.
Would love to be wrong.

Jay95
Jay95
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

I think you’ll be wrong. Geno is probably more driven now that he knows the Pens doubt his ability to age well. The last time that happened he came back in the best condition he’d been in in years.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Everyone thinks that because he had a major injury 2 seasons ago that he automatically will be injured again this season?

trackback

[…] Bergeron was signing with the Boston Bruins for one year at $2.5-million, 36-year-old forward Evgeni Malkin signed a four-year, $24.4-million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. As a result of […]

Zach
Zach
1 month ago

You can’t compare Malkin and Bergeron contracts. Bergeron is taking things year by year and if he didn’t sign with Boston, he would have retired. Malkin would have left Pittsburgh, had The Penguins not signed him. One was looking to continue playing, the other had an uncertain future.

Ujn Hunter
1 month ago
Reply to  Zach

Yes. The people downvoting you obviously don’t understand.

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[…] Comparing the contracts of Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Boston captain Patrice […]