Holy Hannah. Every time I refresh Twitter, someone has been given a zillion dollars! Since we have all summer to look at the crazy things NHL teams are doing, let’s start with our own favorites.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Pittsburgh Penguins:
While I enjoy a gleeful shopping binge every once in a while, the bill always comes. Death and taxes, you know. Except not taxes – at least not luxury taxes on the salary cap because that’s not allowed in the NHL. So where are the Penguins putting their money, and will there be any left for lunch?
Kris Letang – 8 years, $58 million
Okay handsome. We see you back there on the blue line, looking fabulous… while not holding the blue line. That is a problem for which the remedy had better be $7.25 million/year. Kris tied for the lead in points by a defenseman last season (38). He was 10th in the entire League in points-per-game at 1.09 [link]. Offensive defensemen – yay!
But also you must be defensemen! QB-ing a power play, to mix sports metaphors, is a requirement. Malkin’s not gonna do it. There were times this year, both on the power play and in the defensive zone, when I was screaming for a line change to give me Brooks Orpik. Those days, I don’t know why Letang is making more than $5 million/year. Other days I see Kris’ play and I want to make it rain. I shall expect a handsomely convincing display of his renewed defensive prowess in October.
Side note: Kris’ contract does not have a no-trade clause. Instead he gets to pick 12 teams to which he would NOT accept a trade [Post-Gazette]. The rest are fair game. That’s an interesting plus should Letang become a hole in Shero’s boat.
Pascal Dupuis – 4 years, $15 million
DEAL. Did you know Dupuis made $1.5 million last year? And the year before that? $1.5 million is what the Islanders will pay Rick DiPietro NOT to play hockey every year for the next 16 years. I can’t even.
Yes, Duper is 34, but his .79 PPG average last year was a career high (up from .72 in ’11-’12). He scored 20 goals plus 11 points in the playoffs [stats]. He could have taken his show on the UFA road and made more than $4 million next season. Luckily for me, and Crosby, and James Neal’s hair, Pascal wanted to stay in Pittsburgh.
Chris Kunitz – 3 years, $11.55 million
It is a crime that no one remembers The Monchichis because this is what I think of every time I see Chris Kunitz.
Kunitz is well worth $3.85 mil/yr because he fits everywhere – in ’11-’12 it was on the Neal/Malkin line that generated 40 goals for Neal and the Art Ross Trophy for Geno. Last season, Chris finished 8th in goals and 7th in points (his career best) alongside Crosby/Dupuis. Crosby missed a month and that was still the top-scoring line in the NHL.
The Pens top lines fight over #14, and the loser suffers on the scoreboard [great Pensburgh feature]. Kunitz may not be a marquee name, but he makes them happen.
Side note: Career years at the age of 33 for Dupuis and Kunitz. Who else was 33 last season? Superman, according to Man of Steel, and some girls with a hockey blog. 33 is the new black.
The Penguins already have a load of big-time contracts:
- Malkin – $8.7 mil/yr (’12-13), increases to $9.5 mill (’13-14 and on)
- Crosby – $8.7 mil/yr for the rest of time
- Fluery – $5 mil/yr through ’13-14
- Neal – $5 mil/yr through 2018
- Martin – $5 mil/yr through ’13-14
That means in ’12-13, the Penguins will commit $43.375 million to just 8 players, including Letang, Dupuis and Kunitz (Letang and Kunitz’s raises don’t kick in until ’14-15).
The salary cap for 2013-14 is projected to be $63.4 million [ESPN.com]. Currently the Pens stand at $60 million spent [CapGeek.com] – on 19 players. They need at least 20 on their roster, and can have no more than 23 active. Currently unsigned from last season: Iginla, Morrow, Jeffrey, Cooke, Adams, Bortuzzo, Murray and Eaton. So that last $3.4 million is going to have to go a very long way for Pittsburgh.
The light at the end of the tunnel? Since the salary cap is based on League revenue from the previous season, the cap is expected to increase significantly for the ’14-15 season. And it better, because the Penguins have already spent some of that money.
Tags: chris kunitz, Kris Letang, pascal dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins