The Pittsburgh Penguins have given Evgeni Malkin an enormous eight-year, $76 million contract extension which will keep him within the organization through the 2021-22 season. Malkin's old contract was still in place through the 2013-14 season, but the team clearly believed they needed to address his contract as soon as possible.
Malkin will make $7.5 million in 2013-14 in the final year of his old deal before seeing his check bump up to $9.5 million a year starting in 2014-15 and continuing through 2021-22. Though the forward will be seeing a big boost in pay, his cap hit will only increase by $800,000 (from $8.7 million to $9.5 million) once his new deal takes hold.
Penguins fans should be pretty happy. This news means both Malkin and Sidney Crosby are locked up with the Penguins through the next nine seasons.
While Malkin's price might seem a bit steep to some, he probably could have commanded significantly more should he have waited to sign a new deal. As this article on Sportsnet points out, Malkin signed his new extension prior to a season where the league's salary cap is rolled back to $64.3 million. This cap number will rise and it might rise as soon as 2014-15. If Malkin would have held off on agreeing to an extension until some point during 2013-14 when it's obvious the cap is about to rise to the $70 million neighborhood, we might be talking about a contract that's somewhere in the $10-13 million range.
However, while Malkin waiting for more money might have worked in theory, it's doubtful the Penguins wanted to pay him more than Crosby. Crosby's deal is one from the old era of front-loaded contracts, but he'll still make more than Malkin for the next six seasons.
It's tough to argue that Malkin isn't worth the money. Some hockey fans are debating that it's foolish to tie up so much money in one player, but it's important to remember that we're discussing one of the best players in the league. Malkin averages 1.22 points-per-game in regular season contests, a ratio which is absolutely stunning. If Malkin was to test the open market you could bet every team in the league would be willing to pay $10 million or more a season to secure his talents.