Jul 29, 2010, 11:30 PM EDT
Two of the most notable potential 2011 unrestricted free agents might receive contract extensions way before July ’11. As I discussed before, the San Jose Sharks began talks to extend their leading points scorer Joe Thornton while Craig Custance also reported that the Boston Bruins started discussing a deal with big captain Zdeno Chara.
It’s natural to wonder if those teams will follow the nauseating trend of signing top-end players to “lifetime” contracts. Joe Thornton would only be 32 in October 2011 while Zdeno Chara will narrowly avoid 35+ contract status because he’ll only be 34 once the 11-12 season begins, so there would be incentive to make one of those clandestine “retire when you stop getting paid” deals. Still, as older players already receiving – and doing everything to earn – big money (both garner $7 million+ annual cap hits), they might not be as concerned with up front money or extra years.
While Chara’s agent says that the discussions are “just preliminary talks,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson gives some telling quotes that indicate he won’t be pulling a Kovalchuk-type deal with Jumbo Joe.
While Wilson won’t publicly comment on negotiations with Thornton, he made one thing clear: He won’t be doing any Kovalchuk-like deal with his franchise center, even if an extended long-term deal would help drive down the salary cap hit.
“We don’t have any contracts longer than four years,” Wilson said. “We are a player payroll team. We operate the way we operate. Under the CBA, people have options and choices. We have our own structure.”
Whether you critique Thornton for supposed playoff shortcomings or wonder if the Bruins can afford a cap hit like Chara’s, there’s no doubt (in my mind) that both players are truly among the NHL’s elite. It will be interesting to see if their contract discussions follow previous patterns or set new precedents under the far-more-watchful eyes of league executives.
- NHL fines Sharks $100K for Torres suspension critique 35
- Toews has beef with officiating after Game 2 loss 38
- Discuss: Red Wings even up series, take down Chicago 4-1 24
- No surgery needed for Eric Staal following injury at Worlds 3
- Playoffs tonight: Detroit and San Jose look to change things up 3
- Bruins’ Hamilton: ‘I don’t feel like a rookie anymore’ 26
- Penguins’ Murray: ‘We need to be better’ 8
- Senators’ coach MacLean: Karlsson ‘wasn’t one of the best players’ 4
- Discuss: Penguins defeat Senators in Game 2; lead series 2-0 40
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators 91
- Alex ‘they wanted Game 7′ Ovechkin to address media today before heading to Worlds (110)
- Question for commenters: What’s the hardest team to support? (93)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Capitals discuss ‘lopsided’ penalty calls (82)
- Bryzgalov thinks Stalin did a good job, wishes Philadelphia wasn’t so old, and believes poor people don’t want to work (79)
- Oxbow upsets Orb in Preakness
- Live Extra: Watch Game 3 between Sharks, Kings
- PBT Pacers top Knicks, punch ticket to conf. finals
- MST: Carpenter wins pole for 97th Indianapolis 500
- PHT: Red Wings even up series with Blackhawks
- PBT: Pacers may not have Hill for Game 6
- PHT: No surgery needed for Staal after brutal hit
- Play Video: Stuart lands huge hit on Williams
- Play Video: Toffoli gets Kings on the board
- Play Video: Sharks take advantage of early penalty
- Play Video: Highlights: Red Wings even series, thump Blackhawks
- Play Video: Filppula scores impressive, unbalanced goal
- Play Video: IIHF highlights: Sweden 3, Finland 0