I just don't see it, being a gamble that is.
Signing for a contract of that length is the only way you get him at 8.7 mil per season. If they were only offering a 5 or 6 year deal I don't see how he signs for less than 11 mil per season. In the end it gives them 2-3 mil more in cap space per year to play with.
The guy is not Marc Savard, though that may not be a fair comparison because he's way more skilled to begin with. Judging by his performance last year, 11-34-45 in 28gms, clearly he can still play an elite level, where as Savard was clearly done. As long as he says injury free the guy is basically a lock for 100 points a year for the next 10 years. There's no one else in the NHL who you can say that about. He's the only guy in the league today worth a 100 mil (Malkin & Stamkos are close but not quite).
What happens if they don't sign him to this deal now and he goes on to have one of his prototypical 100+pt seasons. Teams would shell out insane amounts of money to sign him as a UFA next year
What are the chances the Pens sign him then if they turned down his request for this deal this year? Pretty low imo.
And there as no way they'd ever take that kind of chance with the face of the franchise (this from someone who personally likes Malkin more and think he's slightly more talented, but I don't think he'll be as productive/consistent nor as marketable as Crosby).
Look at it this way, here's the worst case scenarios:
-If he gets seriously injured and decides to retires at any point, then Pen's aren't on the hook for the reminder and it doesn't count against the cap.
-If he gets seriously injured and has the same mind set as Rick DiPietro...
Originally Posted by http://www.sinbinsb.com/2011/10/rick-dipietro-is-probably-made-of-glass.html
(thank you Brent Johnson
...and plays the rehab game, then they'll put him on LTIR, and his salary won't count against the cap. Most likely they've insured his contract so they wouldn't even have to pay it. And even if not, I'm not going to be crying for Ron Burkle, Mr. 3.2 billion dollar man.
Also, I highly doubt it'll get to this, but even over-inflated contracts like Brian Rolston's (and apparently even Scott Gomez's albatross) have value in a league with a minimum salary cap.
Considering all that, its pretty much the smartest thing they could have done.