November 7, 2009; San Jose, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) fights for the puck on a face off with San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) during the third period at HP Pavilion. The Sharks defeated the Penguins 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

What Crosby's Contract Means For Free Agency: Salary per PPG

By now we’ve all heard about Crosby’s new contract, a rumored $104.4M over 12 years, working out to an average of $8.7M a year.  When the contract ends, Crosby will be 37 and nearing retirement.  It’s important to note that the $8.7M a year is a nod to his birthdate (8/7/87) and the number on his jersey, but it’s clear that this is well under market for arguably the best player in the game.  The max salary a player can earn under the current CBA is 20% of the existing cap, so in Crosby’s case he could’ve goosed the Pens for over $12M.  Think he kept his salary “low” because he has endorsment deals?  He only earns about $2-3M a year from endorsements.  My guess is that it’s part because of extra endorsement deals, part because of the “87” superstition, and part because he’s a competitor who just wants to win more Cups.  The Hockey Gods will bless this deal, no doubt.
How underpaid is Crosby relative to other elite talents?  The quickest way to figure out quickly value around who’s getting paid what is to calculate their cap hit by Salary per PPG (SPPG).  Yes it’s pretty rudimentary, but let’s just take a look at the top 10 ranked guys in the ppg column, excluding anyone who played fewer than 20 games, and their SPPG:
- Crosby: 1.68ppg, $8.7M per year, $5.18M SPPG
- Malkin: 1.45, $8.7M per year, $6M SPPG
- Giroux: 1.21, $3.75M per year, $3.1M  SPPG
- Stamkos: 1.18, $7.5M per year, $6.36M SPPG
- Kovalchuk: 1.08, $6.67M per year, $6.16M SPPG
- Spezza: 1.05, $7M per year, $6.67M SPPG
- Backstrom: 1.05, $6.7M per year, $6.35M SPPG
- Lupul: 1.02, $4.25M per year, $4.16M SPPG
- Neal: 1.01, 2.875M per year, $2.85M SPPG
- Kessel: 1.00, $5.4M per year, $5.4M SPPG
A couple things to note here…Giroux is still working on his 2nd contract and just exploded last year, AND he only has 2 years left on this deal so he’s due for a big pay raise.  Neal has already gotten his big pay raise, his new level would put him at $4.95M  SPPG .  Still, looking at these numbers, Crosby’s contract is clearly undervaluing his contribution by about $1M  SPPG.  The issue for Free Agency is that this opens up a debate about the value of some of the available talent.  The Crosby contract will put some agents in a bind when trying to pitch their clients as top-tier talents who should get paid top-tier dough.  Consider that Zach Parise’s SPPG would be $10.35M given last year’s ppg (0.84) were he paid at Crosby’s level.  Granted, there’s a lot of off-puck work that Parise does, but you get the point.
Why do we care as Sharks fans, given that Parise likely won’t be a Shark this time next week?  This contract has a ripple effect that will hopefully push a lot of other mid-tier Free Agents nicely into our payscale.  So thank you, Sidney Crosby and Pat Brisson, much appreciated.
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Tags: Hockey Gods San Jose Sharks Sidney Crosby Zach Parise

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