Sidney Crosby: The Most Overpaid Player in Hockey

Eric Steitz@esteitz16Analyst IIIJune 29, 2012

Sidney Crosby: The Most Overpaid Player in Hockey

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    On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins and their oft-injured captain Sidney Crosby will sign a 12-year $104.4 Million contract, effective starting in the 2013-2014 season.

    This new deal locks Crosby in the Consol Energy Arena until 2025, a huge deal for Pittsburgh, the Penguins, NHL free agents and hockey itself.

    The Penguins are ecstatic about having Crosby for the next 13 years.

    "He's meant so much to the Penguins, to the growth of youth hockey in Pittsburgh, and to the NHL and the game of hockey in general. It's a tremendous feeling to know he'll be here through 2025," said Penguin president David Morehouse in a team release

    According to Crosby's agent Pat Brisson, Crosby wanted to be a Penguin forever. With this new deal, that could very well be the case.

    While most, if not all, of Pittsburgh is in favor of this resigning---the deal can't be finalized until free agency begins July 1---the flightless birds are taking a huge risk. 

    How can the Penguins justify paying Crosby $8.7 million per year in a front-loaded contract?

Crosby by the Numbers

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    By no means do I believe Sidney Crosby lacks talent. Crosby is one of the most skilled players in the NHL.

    He's just not on the ice often enough to justify a large-volume, long-term contract. The contract he will sign on July 1 is way too high risk for the Penguins to get any return.

    The Penguins drafted Crosby in 2005 with the first overall selection and up until 2011, it was a no-brainer.

    In 2011, Crosby's concussion issues started.

    Whether it was the hit from David Steckel or Victor Hedman, since New Year's Day 2011, he hasn't been the same Crosby.

    Some may argue it's too small of sample size to make any sort of inference—Crosby has played in just 28 games since those hits.

    I look at two numbers that make a his type of center-man effective: Face off percentage and shooting percentage.

    Crosby has a career .151 shooting percentage. Wayne Gretzky, the Great One, had a career .176 shooting percentage so Crosby isn't far off there.

    The issue comes in last season. According to the Penguins, when Crosby returned to action he was fully recovered.

    Despite being healthy, Crosby shot a career low .109 percentage. Why didn't the Penguins consider that?

    The other stat worth mentioning is the one thing that centers do most, take face offs. The season before his injury, Crosby won nearly 56 percent of his draws. That was tied for 14th in the league.

    Superb performance from one of the league's premier centers.

    After his concussion, Crosby won 50 percent of his draws in the regular season and 54 percent in the playoffs.

    Both stats are down from previously healthy Crosby numbers. 

Crosby vs. Ovechkin: By the Contract

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    Comparing two of the faces of the NHL's deals, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are among the top paid players in the game.

    Ovechkin has a 13-year, $124 million deal. Crosby's new deal, as previously mentioned, is 12 years and $104.4 million.

    Crosby will make around $8.7 million per year. Not bad for someone who has played 28 games in almost 18 months. 

    Based on his current deal, Crosby makes $8.7 million per year (five-year deal worth $43.5 million). 

    In 2010-2011, Crosby suited for 41 Penguin games. In 2011-2012, Crosby played in 22 games.

    63 games and $17.5 million (rounded) in two seasons. That's $277,777.78 per game!

    Ovechkin, making $9.53 million per year, played in 79 games in 2010-11 and 78 in 2011-12. 

    167 games and $19.06 million in two seasons. That's $114,131.18 per game.

    The Penguins average contract is $2.76 million for the 2011-12 season. Crosby makes nearly $6 million more than that and he's not on the ice daily like his teammates are.

    So why does Crosby get an extension?

Crosby Is a Captain, Not a Leader.

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    With a healthy Sidney Crosby, many believed the Penguins were the team to beat in the 2012 NHL playoffs. Don't believe me?

    Ten, I repeat, TEN, of the world's top hockey analysts picked the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup.

    Banking on the Captain's leadership and the talent of Crosby, Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang, the Penguins had the pieces in place for another title run.

    When the going gets tough, the tough get going, unless you're the Penguins captain. If you're the captain, you play useless games to frustrate and motivate your opponent, while distracting your own team.

    This is evident in the video above at the 2:20 mark.

    Crosby should know what it takes to be a leader by now. He has won a Stanley Cup (2009) and been named a league MVP (2007). Unfortunately, he is not a leader.

    Did the Penguins really extend their captain's contract another dozen years without any leadership skill? 

Crosby Gets Rewarded for What Others Get Suspended for

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    Sidney Crosby is one of the most talented players in the game, but the Penguins took too great of a risk.

    The video above, a short clip of some of Crosby's incidents and cheap shots, show exactly why the Penguins will not benefit from this signing.

    Crosby is an instigator, not the enforcer-type like you see from some of the NHL's top fighters.

    Instead, Crosby uses practically dirty play to get to the opponents. He targets stars, like in the beginning of the video above when Crosby targets New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.

    If I were a Ranger enforcer, I would have no problem using dirty play to get back at Crosby.

    The issue is Crosby's antics are known throughout locker rooms.

    One of these games in the upcoming season, Crosby will target someone with a borderline dirty play. The opponent's enforcer will go after Crosby. We all know the purpose will be to target Crosby's head and knock him out of the game.

    This will not be a New Orleans Saints type bounty hit either. But as we saw from the Steckel hit, with the speed of hockey, it doesn't take much to cause a concussion.

    The Penguins can only do so much to protect their star captain. I hope they have a contract waiting for Malkin for when Crosby gets injured again.

    That one will be tough for Mario Lemieux to explain to the Pittsburgh community.