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Molinari: What Sidney Crosby’s Next Contract Should Look Like



Pittsburgh Penguins, Penguins playoff race, Sidney Crosby celebrates comeback win

There’s every reason to believe that Kyle Dubas, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ president of hockey operations and GM, will be busy on July 1.

That, after all, is the day free agency in the NHL begins, and if the Penguins’ roster gets the offseason overhaul that is widely anticipated, it’s reasonable to think Dubas will move aggressively then.

While the details of which players he’ll pursue aren’t finalized — guys whose contracts are about to expire still are allowed to negotiate with their current teams, and could take themselves off the market by agreeing to a new deal — there is at least one move that seems like a better-than-even bet to be made that day: Signing Sidney Crosby to a new contract.

July 1 is the first day the Penguins are allowed to do that and Crosby, who has one season remaining on his deal, never has expressed an iota of interest in playing elsewhere. What’s more, since $8.7 million seems to be Crosby’s salary of choice — and that’s way below his value to the franchise — there shouldn’t be much negotiating over money.

One variable that is worth watching, though, whether Crosby re-signs on July 1 or at some later date, is the length of the contract.

He is represented by one of the most successful agents in the business, Pat Brisson, who certainly doesn’t need advice from the outside, but here’s an unsolicited suggestion: Have Crosby sign one-year contracts for the rest of his career.

Crosby doesn’t need the financial security that would come with a long-term deal — puts his career earnings at a bit more than $141 million, and that doesn’t include what he’s earned with endorsements — and making only a year-by-year commitment would allow him to regularly assess the state of the organization and determine whether he wants to continue the relationship.

If, say, management embarks on a major rebuild at some point and Crosby isn’t interested in going through those growing pains in his late 30s, he could walk away, with minimal damage to either side.

The simple truth is that there was a Pittsburgh Penguins franchise before Crosby arrived in 2005, and there will be one after he eventually departs.

And it will be a much, much better one because he has been here.

Canceling the test

It was suggested in this space on Feb. 28 that the Penguins should give Tristan Jarry as many starts as possible during the stretch drive so that management and the coaches could see how he performs in high-stakes games, something that really hadn’t been established to that point of his career.

It seemed perfectly logical at the time and, coincidentally or other, Jarry has appeared in six of the Penguins’ eight games since then, with Alex Nedeljkovic getting his only starts on a couple of occasions when the Penguins were playing on consecutive days.

Trouble is, the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t going to be playing any more high-stakes games this season, unless what’s on the line in a particular game is what their position will be heading into the draft lottery.

That’s because the Penguins are 1-6-1 in the eight games that have been contested in the wake of an invigorating 4-2 victory in Vancouver Feb. 27, and the only real question about their elimination from playoff contention is precisely when it will happen.

Although Jarry scored a goal earlier this season — that’s one more than some teammates — it probably isn’t fair to blame him for the Penguins’ offensive ineptitude of late. Regardless of the culprits, though, they have scored just twice in the past 253 minutes, 20 seconds of playing time.

Consequently, Jarry has to report to work a lot of nights thinking that if a single puck gets past him, the Penguins are doomed.

Self-imposed or otherwise, the pressure to be perfect — or something very close to it — pretty much every time you play has to be weighty, and Jarry has handled it fairly well. The Penguins’ 2-1 overtime loss in Ottawa Tuesday was a good illustration of that, as Jarry stopped 37 of 39 shots and made more than a few quality stops that prevented the Senators from putting the game out of reach.

Still, the past half-dozen games, during which it became clear the Penguins weren’t going to challenge for a playoff berth, did not provide the test of Jarry’s big-game capabilities they seemed likely to a couple of weeks ago.

Perhaps he is a goalie who can lead his team on a long playoff run. Maybe he isn’t.

Either way, he won’t get a chance to prove it for at least another year.