1 Total Update since June 22, 2010
almost 3 years ago Update 4 comments
Pens Universe, a reputable Penguins blog with contacts to Cooke and his charity initiative, was one of the first to announce the signing and now has terms.
Cooke’s new three-year contract will average $1.8 million per season, and he also has a no trade clause.
This will be a $600,000 raise against the Penguins’ salary cap, as Cooke’s last deal was worth $1.2 million. For the team, this is very managable. It’s expected that if veteran forward Bill Guerin will return, he’ll take a pay cut off of his previous $2 million salary. If Guerin does not return, it’s expected a young player, like Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey or Nick Johnson, on a cheap, entry-level type of deal may take Guerin's place in the lineup, which would essentially absorb the increase in salary given to Cooke.
almost 3 years ago Update 0 comments
One of the Penguins' major impending free agents has decided not to test the open market, as Matt Cooke has agreed to a three year deal, per many sources.
Cooke has played two seasons with the Penguins and become a vital part of the team, playing on a line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy, as well as being a key part of the team's penalty kill. Cooke provides grit and sometimes questionable hits, and is coming off a career high 15 goals last season.
It's telling that General Manager Ray Shero would give Cooke, at age 31, a three-year deal. Cooke came to the Pens in the summer 2008 as the replacement for forward Jarkko Ruutu. Ruutu was only offered a two year contract by Pittsburgh, which Ottawa one-upped with a three-year deal.
Shero doesn't often sign veterans to contracts longer than a year or two, so that he gave Cooke three speaks to not only the leverage Cooke had as an impending unrestricted free agent, but also to how well Cooke fills his role with the Penguins.
What may be lost in this is ramifications for star defenseman Sergei Gonchar. While Cooke's salary won't be the difference in retaining Gonchar or not, it had seemed possible that Gonchar would be "the first domino to fall" in salary negotiations and then the team would make decisions on guys like Cooke and other free agents such as Mark Eaton and Jordan Leopold accordingly.
That Shero's already moved on to signing Cooke, reportedly after getting a contract offer from Gonchar's camp earlier this week, may indeed formalize what many Pens fans have feared: Gonchar's priced himself out of Pittsburgh and 2009-10 was most likely his final season with the Pens.