Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Bigger Extension?

The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed this morning that they have agreed to a 12-year extension with Sidney Crosby.

Then a few hours later, our 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings tweeted that they have agreed in principle to a 10-year extension of their own with Conn Smythe Trophy-winner and Vezina nominee Jonathan Quick.

Crosby was the first pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, the 3rd top-2 pick the Penguins had "earned" in as many years (Fleury and Malkin had been the previous two). He cracked the Penguins line-up immediately, and playing alongside legends like Mario Lemieux and Ziggy Palffy, he immediately broke records, including being the youngest player to ever record 100 points. He finished second in the Calder Trophy voting to fellow rookie and 2004 #1 overall pick Alexander Ovechkin, but the following season he blew his Russian counterpart away, winning the Art Ross, Hart, and Pearson Trophies. In only his third season, he led the Penguins as captain to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they fell in defeat to the Detroit Red Wings, but in a rematch of those squads in 2009, his Penguins were triumphant, making him the youngest captain of a Stanley Cup champion in history. But aside from a share of the Maurice Richard trophy the following season (shared with Steven Stamkos), it's been a bit downhill for Crosby ever since. His team has not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since winning the Cup and in the last two seasons he has suffered from concussions and other injuries that have limited him to 63 of their last 164 regular season games.

Jonathan Quick was also drafted in 2005 but with nowhere near the fanfare of Crosby. Quick was selected 72nd overall, the eleventh man chosen in the 3rd Round and only the 4th Kings' pick of the day (behind Anze Kopitar, Danny Roussin, and T.J. Fast). And yet, his career has taken a different trajectory than that of Crosby. After being drafted, Quick spent the next two years in college before moving to the Kings' ECHL affiliate in Reading for half a year in 2008. By the middle of the 2007-08 season, Quick had been promoted to Manchester with a dazzling record of 23-11-3 and .905 save percentage with Reading. In 14 games in the AHL that season he improved his save percentage to .922, going 11-8, and earning himself a short stint in Los Angeles. It was back to the minors to start to 2008-09 season, but for only 14 games before a permanent recall to the Kings that has seen him win 20+ games all four seasons, and 35+ each of the last three. He has a career 2.30 GAA and .916 save percentage with 24 shutouts. He is already 3rd all-time in Kings wins with 131 and second in shutouts. He owns team records for victories in a single regular season and single playoff season, win streaks in both the regular and post-season, shutouts in a single season (set this year), consecutive shutouts (set this season), and many others that can be viewed at In 2012, he finished 2nd in the Vezina voting to Henrik Lunqvist and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after backstopping the Kings to their first ever Stanley Cup.

So Crosby or Quick? Whose extension has the bigger impact on his team? Who is more likely to lead their team to a second Stanley Cup during the next decade? Who is more likely to contribute to their respective team's success?

For my money, it's Quick. If he continues to play at the level that we have seen from him, he will lead the Kings to multiple championships. Crosby can be neutralized, frustrated, and marginalized as was the case in the playoffs this spring. Try to frustrate Quick and he just gets better. Just ask the Canucks, Coyotes, and Devils.

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