DAILY FIVE (Penguins Edition)

*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

1.       The NBA and NHL are on different planets. The NBA has evolved into a global, star driven sport, while hockey will always be a regional niche sport. The NBA has a great TV contract and despite no parity with only two or three teams having a realistic shot at winning the NBA title, the league has never been more popular and players have never made more money.
What the NBA off-season, though, continues to prove is how underpaid NHL players are, especially the star players.  How much is Sidney Crosby worth to the Penguins? $20-$25 million per season?
Connor McDavid just signed an 8 year – $100 million contract, while Tim Hardway Jr who’s probably not even one of the best 75 players in the NBA, just signed a 4 year, $71 million contract with the New York Knicks. Like Crosby, McDavid’s worth to the Oilers is over $20 million per season.  
The logistics of a hard cap system will always keep star players from being paid what they should and not to mention, clubs have to fill 21-23 spots against the cap, unlike the NBA where you can pay 3-4 players max contracts, have 3-4 average reserves making $8-$15 million per and fill out the rest of the roster with non-guaranteed contracts and you’ll be a great team.
The fascinating aspect between star NHL players and star NBA players is loyalty. NHL star players rarely jump ship and often sell themselves short in the long-term by taking the max term in return for a lower AAV or in the past before the new CBA (2013) — cheat deals –.

Connor McDavid took less percentage against the cap than Sidney Crosby did coming out of his entry level deal and he took the full eight year max term contract.

Crosby’s third contract doesn’t get talked enough of how team-friendly the deal is and how much he sold himself short in the long-term.
The loyalty of Sidney Crosby, his cheat deal in 2012 (12 years – $104.4 million) cost him millions in the long-run. Prior to Crosby signing his 12 year deal in June 2012, the Penguins and Crosby’s camp had two different scenarios, a 12-13 year deal or a five year deal with an AAV of $11.56 million that would be structured the same way the first five years of his current 12 year deal are.  
Crosby took the team friendly deal that will have him majorly under paid during the last seven years of the deal.
Crosby’s contract pays him $57.8 million in the first five seasons (2013-2014/2017-2018) and only $46.6 million over the last seven seasons of the deal, including just $9 million in the last three years of his contract.
The contract doesn’t end until he’s 37 years old, where he’ll make $3 million per season at age 35, 36, and 37.
If Crosby had taken the five year deal that many in his inner circle were pushing for him to take, Crosby would have been eligible to sign a new extension on July 1, 2017. Crosby would be getting an 8 year extension this summer with a blank check to name his price. Taking the cheat deal in 2012 cost him at least $30-$40 million.

NHL owners plan to lock out the players in a couple years again but they should be thankful at how they never have to stress about their stars leaving.

2.   Rick Tocchet has been the key cog in handling Phil Kessel and the worst news for anyone on the Penguins roster in Tocchet being the front-runner for the Arizona job is Kessel.
Mike Sullivan’s patience for Kessel had become razor thin this past season and the relationship between the two is not good.

As Kessel enters his 30’s, anyone believe he’s going to suddenly start blocking shots, caring about playing his own end?
Nothing’s official until it’s official but the Penguins have been drumming up a preliminary list of assistant coach candidates with expectations that Rick Tocchet is going to Arizona.  Mike Sullivan will have significant authority on the hire, in what will be his first assistant coach hire among the main staff.

What the Penguins will give zero credence on is hiring someone they feel can handle Phil Kessel. It won’t sway things in one direction.

“He’s not that important, “ [hide] a source close to the situation said of Kessel.

Some are jumping ahead, though, in believing this might be Kessel’s last season in Pittsburgh.

It’s a very tough contract to move and Kessel can only waive to eight teams and his camp on July 1 always makes the eight teams he’d waive to Stanley Cup contenders who are right against the cap, to diminish any chance of a trade.

Still, that Kessel/Sullivan relationship is going to be fun to watch.

3.  The Penguins have spoken to the Leafs about Tyler Bozak who did interest the team back at the 2015 deadline. Pittsburgh does not believe there’s a trade match at this point and if the Leafs moved Bozak this summer, it would be out West.

One source says with the Leafs believing they are very close to competing for a Stanley Cup, they’re not going to be in the mood to help out the Penguins here, a team they’re gunning for.

The Leafs may still take a stab at keeping Bozak on a short-term deal and with being in win-now mode, it would have to be a deal with NHL players coming back in return.

“They need Bozak more than they need JVR,” an Eastern Conference scout said of the Leafs pending UFA’s in 2018.

4. Dallas Stars center Radek Faksa is another third line center out there getting thrown around as a Penguin target but he’s another player who’s not truly available I’m told.

Just signed today to a three year contract, the Stars love Faksa who is an excellent 200-ft player and he’s just 23 years old.

The 2012 first round pick is now on a very good contract and Faksa’s a player scouts feel will flourish under Ken Hitchcock and it would take a boat load to get out of Dallas, a league source says.

5. One of the NHL’s greatest myths is that trade offers for players available at the trade deadline improve in the summer.

That’s often not the case.

A couple prime examples this summer.

Matt Duchene in Colorado. Joe Sakic has had an outrageous asking price since January and he backed himself into a corner believing the type of offer he wants would eventually come in the summer. In fact, offers for Duchene have been much worse.

The longer a player is on the trade block especially the type of situation in Colorado with Duchene, the more likely scouts, executives from other clubs drag down the players value. Everyone talks and once word spreads of some red flags, a players value can take a big hit and Duchene’s has for various reasons.

A totally different type of situation happened in Vegas. NHL GM’s believe George McPhee overplayed his hand in taking so many NHL defenseman and believing he could flip a number of them for high picks in the summer.

General Manager’s are more desperate to overpay at the trade deadline than in the summer. If Marc Methot is made available by Ottawa last February, he’s going to for a first round pick.

Alexei Emelin would have went for at least a second round pick and some change at the deadline.

Vegas has played the acquire veterans/draft pick game, instead of taking young NHL talent, and it could backfire. [/hide]