All eyes this summer are going to be on the Penguins negotiations with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. The Evgeni Malkin negotiation is going to be an easy one like Sidney Crosby last summer, and there’s already been a few discussions between the Penguins and Malkin’s agent J.P. Barry in the past couple weeks.
While Malkin can’t officially sign till July 1, the Malkin camp expects negotiations to center around the breakdown of Sidney Crosby’s contract in the first eight years of his 12 year deal. Crosby by the way will make $86.4 million through the first eight years of the contract, for those of you wondering what Malkin’s cap hit might look like on his next deal.
As for Kris Letang, that negotiation is a bit more of an unknown at this point on how it’s going to play out.
One under the radar negotiation that will be an interesting one in the next year or possibly as early as this summer/fall is center Brandon Sutter.
Sutter, 24, has one year left on his contract and carries a $2,066,667 cap hit on his current contract. Sutter, though, will make $2.7 million next season. He’s a restricted free agent next summer (following 2013-2014 season), and here’s the kicker, the 2014-2015 season will be Sutter’s seventh accrued NHL season, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2015.
Sutter is evolving into at least a $4 million a year player on his next contract but will the Penguins have a Jordan Staal situation on their hands in Sutter wanting or being intrigued of being a top-2 line player and seeing top power play time elsewhere?
“I don’t want to just be looked at as a defensive player,” Sutter said during a June introductory media session. “I want to score goals.”
That will be something to watch in the near future, but in the Penguins system under Dan Bylsma, Sutter isn’t stuck in a defensive third line center role like he was in Carolina.
There are no limitations from this coaching staff in holding players back from highlighting their skill on a game by game basis.
How much the Penguins rave about Sutter behind the scenes as he’s been everything they’ve hope for, in addition to having great character, there’s a very strong likelihood that Pittsburgh makes an aggressive attempt to lock Sutter up to a long-term deal in the five to six year range at somepoint in the next year.
Pittsburgh can begin negotiations on a new extension with Sutter on July 1, 2013, and it will be interesting to see if the intrigue of being a free agent in July 2015 at age 26 weighs on him to take a shorter term deal when the Penguins approach him about an extension which is going to happen.