Friday, June 16, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins 15 Best/Worst Contracts of Salary Cap Era

UPDATED: JULY 1st 2018

The best and worst non-entry level contracts the Penguins have signed in the salary cap era is all about championships. They’ve won 3 of them, and I’ve got a rule against putting contracts that won Cups on worst contracts lists. If you got paid a good salary and played with Crosby and Malkin in the playoffs, you better have won a Cup. Ron Hainsey, Trevor Dailey, Olli Maatta, Mark Streit, proved in 2017 that you can suck and still win a Cup on a team with Sid and Geno. Ergo, if you played and did not win, you must REALLY suck. That’s my theory anyway. Otherwise their worst contracts list would have been impossible to build. 


BEST

1- Sidney Crosby, June 28 2012 12 years $104M: Signed by Ray Shero. This contract has produced 2 Stanley Cup wins and 2 playoff MVPs and it’s not even over yet. Anytime you can get the best player in the world for less than the league maximum, you’re doing great.

2- Sidney Crosby, July 7 2007, 5 years $43M: Signed by Ray Shero. This contract only produced 1 Stanley Cup, but also 371 PTS in 257 GP. That’s well worth whatever the price you paid. When you can get the best player in the world, no price is too high (well under a hard salary cap anyway…not sure he’d be worth a billion dollars, close, but not quite).

3- Evgeni Malkin, July 2 2008, 5 years $43M: Signed by Ray Shero. The Penguins did not get a Cup out of this contract, but they did get a Hart Trophy for league MVP. Anytime you can get one of those, it’s worth whatever the price you paid. It’s hard to put a price on guys this good.

4- Evgeni Malkin, June 13 2013, 8 years $76M: Signed by Ray Shero. Three seasons into this contract they’ve won 2 Stanley Cups, 298 PTS in 266 GP, 54 playoff PTS and counting. They’re not quite finished yet I don’t think. Malkin could have been playoff MVP in 2017 if not for Crosby.

5- Kris Letang, Mar 30 2010, 4 years $14M: Signed by Ray Shero. In the first year of this contract Letang nearly doubled his point production up to 50 PTS in 82 GP. He averaged close to 24 minutes per game, quickly becoming the Penguins best defensemen.

6- Matt Murray, Oct 20 2016, 3 years $11.2M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. This kid won 2 Stanley Cups on his entry level contract. I don’t think any goalie in the salary cap era has managed to do that as the starter. It was a nice run Marc, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

7- Chris Kunitz, June 27 2013, 3 years $11.5M: Signed by Ray Shero. Normally a player who scored 35 Goals would command a greater return on the open market than this, but Kunitz opted to stay with Pittsburgh for a discount and won 2 more Stanley Cups. Although he never did come close to 35 Goals again (he scored 17, 17, and 9 over these 3 seasons). He was more productive on his previous contract, but won more championships on this one.

8- Brian Dumoulin, July 9 2015, 2 years $1.6M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. A two-year contract that produced 2 Stanley Cup victories. They leaned heavily on Dumoulin for a ridiculously low-price tag.

9- Ian Cole, June 29 2015, 3 years $6.3M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. The first two years of this has produced 2 Stanley Cups, where Cole played an important role. He was very dependable in the playoffs.

10- Pascal Dupuis, July 1 2008, 3 years $4.2M: Signed by Ray Shero. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in the first year of this contract. Over the 3 seasons he scored 103 PTS. He posted better numbers on his next contract, but that one did not see him win any Cups.

11- Justin Schultz, July 13 2016, 1 year $1.4M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. Anytime you can get 50 PTS from the blueline for $1.4M, that’s a win. He also added 13 PTS in the playoffs winning the Stanley Cup.

12- Max Talbot, July 5 2007, 2 years $1.3M: Signed by Ray Shero. He scored the game winning goal in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, producing all of Pittsburgh’s offense in the clinching game. If that were the only game he played on this contract, it would still have made this list.

13- Marc Andre Fleury, July 3 2008, 7 years $35M: Signed by Ray Shero. He won a Stanley Cup and had a regular season Win-Loss record of 246-122 with a 2.44 GAA and .914 SV %. He also helped me win a fantasy hockey championship under this contract…

14- Chris Kunitz, Oct 13 2011, 2 years $7.4M: Signed by Ray Shero. No Cups on this contract, but they did get 120 PTS in 126 GP. He was also +55 with 331 shots and 261 hits.

15- Alex Goligoski, June 17 2009, 3 years $5.5M: Signed by Ray Shero. Goligoski took his game to the next level after signing this contract, and scored 113 PTS in 223 GP at a bargain price. He would finish this contract in Dallas.

WORST

1- Rob Scuderi, July 5 2013, 4 years $13.5M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. Two playoff appearances with a healthy Crosby and Malkin under this contract and did not win a Stanley Cup. They dumped him part way through the 2016 season and went on to win the Cup. He played the last year in the AHL.

2- Zbynek Michalek, July 1st 2010, 5 years $20M: Signed by Ray Shero. Played in the playoffs with a healthy Crosby and Malkin and did not win a Stanley Cup. They did manage to sell him for a 3rd round pick, so the contract did have some value near it's end.

3- Darryl Sydor, July 2 2007, 2 years $5M: Signed by Ray Shero. He played with Crosby and Malkin and did not win a Cup. He was shipped out of town early in Crosby’s first championship season. Did not do much for the money he was paid.

4- Andre Roy, Aug 4 2005, 3 years $3M: Signed by Craig Patrick. The Pens dumped this contract after 47 games. Not worth a roster spot. Played on a team with Sidney Crosby and missed the playoffs.

5- Ryan Whitney, July 1st 2007, 6 years $24M: Signed by Ray Shero. Played in the playoffs with a healthy Crosby and Malkin and did not win a Stanley Cup. They shipped him out part way through the 2009 season and the team went on to win the Cup. Addition by subtraction.

6- Paul Martin, July 1st 2010, 5 years $25M: Signed by Ray Shero. 4 playoff appearances with a healthy Crosby and Malkin and did not win a Stanley Cup. By my criteria that means you suck.

7- Christian Ehrhoff, July 1 2014, 1 year $4M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. He had 14 PTS in 47 GP and did not win a Cup playing on a team with a healthy Crosby and Malkin. Sure, he had some injury issues, but even when healthy he was not good this season.

8- Jocelyn Thibault, Aug 10 2005, 2 years $3M: Signed by Craig Patrick. Over 2 seasons he had 8 Wins, 17 Losses, with a 3.52 GAA and an .894 SV%. That's a waste of money, even more so in a world with a $39M salary cap.

9- Jack Johnson, July 1st 2018, 5 years $16.3M: Signed by Jim Rutherford. It may take a year or two before Penguins fans start lamenting this contract, but trust me, they will before the end. This contract is debuting at #9 on the list before a game has been played. Call this a guy feeling. You should not give that much term to a declining 31-year-old defenseman. 

10- Mark Eaton, July 3 2006, 2 years $3.2M: Signed by Ray Shero. He played 71 games and scored 6 PTS over 2 seasons. The Pens were eliminated in 5 games by the Senators in the playoffs with Eaton as their 3rd defenseman. The next season Eaton didn’t even play in the playoffs and the Penguins made it to the final.

11- Zigmund Palffy, Aug 7 2005, 1 year $4.5M: Signed by Craig Patrick. Ziggy popped in 42 PTS in 42 GP, which is not terrible. But remember, with cap inflation that number is $8.6M, and the Pens missed the playoffs.

12- Dick Tarnstrom, Aug 29 2005, 1 year $1.6M: Signed by Craig Patrick. This is not a significant waste of money, but 14 PTS in 55 GP and missing the playoffs on a Crosby team is enough to make the list.

13- Gary Roberts, June 22 2007, 1 year $2.5M: Signed by Ray Shero. At age 41 Roberts did not have much left in the tank, despite I’m sure great conditioning. He played 38 games scoring 3 Goals, averaging just over 13m per game of ice time.

14- John LeClair, Aug 16 2005, 2 years $3.6M: Signed by Ray Shero. 58 PTS in 94 GP is not the worst way to spend $3.6M, but he’s also on a short list of players who can say they played with Sidney Crosby and missed the playoffs.

15- Marcel Goc, July 1st 2011, 1 year $1.2M: Signed by Ray Shero. 9 PTS in 74 GP is not what they paid for. 

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