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Getzlaf's deal with Ducks will impact Penguins

| Saturday, March 9, 2013, 8:51 p.m.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.

TORONTO — Ray Shero now knows part of the market for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

Center Ryan Getzlaf's contract extension with Anaheim, announced Friday, marked the first time under the new labor contract that an NHL club has signed one of its own marquee players to a maximum-term contract.

Getzlaf, the Ducks' captain, agreed to an eight-year deal worth $66 million.

Getzlaf's total salary is less significant than the number of seasons for which he signed — especially for Shero, whose summer task as general manager is to extend Malkin and Letang.

The labor deal between the NHL and players' association mandates seven-year limits for free-agent contracts, though clubs can re-sign their players for a maximum of eight years. Clubs cannot open contract negotiations with players until the final years of their contracts.

Makin and Letang are in the second-to-last years of their deals. Each player has expressed a desire to remain with the Penguins, whose ownership has instructed Shero to re-sign Malkin, the reigning MVP and a two-time scoring champion.

An individual player can make no more than 20 percent of the salary cap, which will be $64.3 million next season.

Malkin could max out at eight years and $102.88 million, which would make his annual salary cap hit $12.86 million.

Captain Sidney Crosby signed a 12-year extension last July. His cap hit remains $8.7 million, but Crosby will make $12 million in each of the first five seasons of his contract.

Crosby is in the final season of a five-year contract worth $43.5 million, which he signed in July 2007. Malkin agreed to the same deal a year later.

While negotiating with Crosby's representatives last summer, Shero said he informed them that keeping Malkin — a move Crosby has endorsed — would likely require Malkin having a higher cap hit.

Letang counts $3.5 million against the cap. He began Saturday as the NHL leader among defensemen with 22 points. He was playing an average of 26 minutes.

Letang declined comment regarding Getzlaf's max-term deal.

Malkin does not speak on days of games — the Penguins played in Toronto on Saturday — and was not available for comment.

Shero also was not available for comment. He did not accompany the Penguins on their road trip through Philadelphia and Toronto.

Neither Letang nor Malkin — or either of their representatives — has said if so-called hometown discounts to stay with the Penguins are on the radar.

Center Jordan Staal declined a 10-year contract worth around $57 million last summer. He was traded to Carolina, where he signed for 10 years and $60 million.

Wingers Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Craig Adams all can become unrestricted free agents this summer, and the Penguins can open negotiations with those players' representatives now.

Defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen and left winger Chris Kunitz also are set to enter the final years of their current deals. Center Brandon Sutter will enter the final year of his deal this summer, but the Penguins will retain his rights as a restricted free agent in July 2014.

The Penguins are committed to 16 players at a combined cap hit of about $53.7 million next season. That would give them about $10.6 million in cap space.

The new labor contract allows clubs to buy out two players over the next two summers. Those buyouts will not count against the cap.

Notes: The Penguins scratched defenseman Mark Eaton even though they had won three in a row with him in the lineup. Center Joe Vitale was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. … Rookie defenseman Simon Despres favored his lower body while dodging a hit from Toronto center Nazem Kadri in the first period, but Despres returned to play in the second.

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