Now I kind of wish I'd posted this earlier, a few nights ago I was explaining RFAs and the Vanek offer sheet to my wife, and opined that the Penguins should be trying to lock Crosby up now, before the season even starts. I also offered the opinion that if I was his agent, I'd be suggesting something along the lines of 5 years, 9 million per year. I guess Crosby's agent agreed, although I must admit a 5m signing bonus is more than what I had in mind.
Good signing by the Penguins, Crosby's very unlikely to fade away, and even though the market will likely be very different in 5 years (who knows, 8.7mm might seem high by then, but I doubt it) nobody's going to say "that was stupid." Crosby may be leaving money on the table there, but a few million bucks over the course of a few years? I suspect he won't notice the difference, not a guy who still skates at his neighbourhood rinks on Christmas breaks. From the sounds of it, he's a great guy; great player, great signing.
This is the way teams are going to have to do it now; even if the gloves aren't totally off with RFA offer sheets, the threat is there that a GM in dire straits - and there's always at least one or two - will make an offer your young star can't refuse. For all of Lowe's mistakes in the last 12 months, signing Ales Hemsky to a long-term contract? Utter gold.