Risks and rewards of long contracts 

April, 30, 2012

Sidney CrosbyBruce Bennett/Getty ImagesHow long will Sidney Crosby's next contract be ... and will it be in Pittsburgh?
It's hard to find too many long-term contracts that have worked out. Those deals, often structured to circumvent the salary cap, typically range from ill-advised to disastrous. Rick DiPietro never came close to making his 15-year deal pan out. Chris Pronger may never play again, just a couple of years after signing a seven-year deal. Jeff Carter was traded twice in the first year of his 11-year contract. Alex Ovechkin's $9.5 million average salary extends through the 2020-21 season, a healthy payday for a player whose production is already declining.

But while there's some building evidence that these contracts aren't a great idea, it might not matter this summer. The willingness of teams to continue to assume that risk will shape the biggest personnel moves of the offseason.