- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sidney Crosby, already a superstar at 19, yesterday signed a five-year, $43.5 million contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins that will keep him with the team through the 2012-13 season.

The contract extension for Crosby was not unexpected. The center was cashing in on an outstanding season that included an NHL scoring championship and the league MVP honor after leading the Penguins into the playoffs for the first time since 2001. He had three goals in five playoff games, all played on a broken foot.

So what does that mean for the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin?

“We don’t discuss player contracts,” Caps general manager George McPhee said yesterday of Ovechkin’s situation.

Both Crosby and Ovechkin officially will make the maximum amount allowed under the rookie salary cap structure next season. Once bonuses, incentives and promotional payments are taken into account, each is set to make almost $4 million.

Two years ago, Ovechkin was the runaway NHL rookie of the year. Crosby was second. Last season Crosby had the better year, winning the scoring title with 120 points despite fewer goals (36) than Ovechkin (46).

But during the offseason, the Penguins named Crosby their captain, making him the youngest captain in league history. Crosby led the Penguins to 47 wins last season after they won just 22 games the previous season.

“When you’ve got a guy who leads the league in scoring and wins the MVP award at the age of 19, you know you have someone very special,” Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said. “But Sid is also a tremendous asset for the organization as a leader in the dressing room and as the face of our franchise in the community.”

The Caps, on the other hand, finished with 28 wins last season — one less than they had two seasons ago. In both seasons, Washington finished in last place in the Southeast Division with 70 points.

McPhee refused to say whether the two sides would begin contract discussions or whether they had started and been postponed.

But any sort of discussions may be somewhat difficult at the moment.

Last season, Ovechkin fired the only agent he has had since being drafted first overall in 2004, Toronto-based Don Meehan, a representative Ovechkin befriended while growing up in Russia. No reason was given for the dismissal. Reportedly, the Ovechkin family will handle its own affairs with Tatiana, the player’s mother and a two-time Olympic gold medal winner in basketball for Russia, acting as his agent.

Ovechkin, who will be 22 on Sept. 17, will be a restricted free agent after the upcoming season, a status he will hold until just before he turns 27.

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