Crosby is widely recognized as the best player in the sport—when healthy. That's a big issue because Crosby has only played 23 regular-season games since competing in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals. Crosby took a blow to the head in that game when he was hit by David Steckel. The issue was exacerbated the next game when he was freight-trained by Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman.
Crosby struggled to get back in the lineup and he seems healthy now. If he can avoid further big hits that bring back concussion-type symptoms, the Penguins may have made an excellent deal, because the cap hit will be approximately $8.7 million per year.
In addition to re-upping with Crosby before a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association, it sends a strong message to this year's free-agent class.
Specifically, Penguins general manager Ray Shero wants New Jersey Devils right winger Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter to get the message that the Penguins have plenty of money to spend in free agency.
The Penguins are in a position to make a major addition after trading Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes. Staal turned down a 10-year, $60 million offer from the Pens last week and Shero did not try to change his mind. Instead, he decided to move Staal and open up cap space with the deal.
According to the Tribune-Review, Shero would like to sign Parise and Suter, but he would probably be happy to sign one of them. Parise is more of a game-changer than Suter and his presence could make the Penguins quite formidable.
Parise has been the Devils' best player and he has scored 30 or more goals for five straight years when healthy. But there is a lot more to his game than scoring. He is an aggressive and balanced skater who is one of the best forecheckers in the game. Parise is on his man quickly and can take the puck away and create offense in an instant.
Teaming Parise with Crosby would create overwhelming problems for opponents. Not only are both players supremely talented, they are two of the hardest-working players in the league and they would have a chance to light up the scoreboard regularly.
Suter is an outstanding all-around defenseman who has a big shot, carries the puck well and doesn't take any shortcuts on the defensive end. He doesn't shoot the puck as hard as Nashville teammate Shea Weber, but he can bring it.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penguins are likely competing with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild for both players. The Devils desperately want to bring back Parise, but they may not have the money to compete with the Pens, Wings and Wild. The Los Angeles Kings may also make an effort to bring Parise to the West Coast.
Letting the hockey world know that Crosby will be in the fold and that there is still cash on hand should help the Penguins in their efforts to secure those two free-agent prizes.