Sidney Crosby to sign mega-deal

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby are finalizing a new contract that will be worth $104.4 million over 12 years.

The Penguins announced the deal Thursday on their website. The contract will carry an average salary of about $8.7 million a season, although it will be front-loaded. The new contract would go into effect for the 2013-14 season.

"This is a great day for hockey and tremendous news for the Pittsburgh Penguins and our fans," co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a joint statement. "We are grateful for all that Sidney Crosby has done for our franchise since coming to Pittsburgh in 2005, both on and off the ice, and we look forward to having him in a Penguins uniform for the rest of his career."

Crosby has played in just 28 games in the past 18 months after suffering a concussion in the Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals in January 2011. He finished with eight goals and 29 assists last season and added three goals in a first-round playoff loss to Philadelphia.

In the past two seasons, 617 players have played more games than Crosby's 63, according to ESPN Stats & Information, but in that same stretch, only 92 players have scored more goals than Crosby's 40.

The Penguins stuck by Crosby during his lengthy battle with concussions despite rumblings about his commitment as his absence stretched from weeks to months. At one point, the players all donned C's on their practice jerseys as a sign of solidarity. The new deal means Crosby will be a part of the team's core for the foreseeable future.

Crosby cannot sign the contract until Sunday, per the rules in the collective bargaining agreement for players who have one year remaining on their current contracts.

His new contract will not be fully insurable, both because of his history of head injuries and because no NHL contract longer than seven years is fully insurable.

Crosby's final year on his current deal counts for $8.7 million against the salary cap.

General manager Ray Shero said during last week's NHL draft he expected Crosby to work with the team to give the Penguins some flexibility. Crosby opted not to take a raise over his current contract despite the prospect of the salary cap rising over the course of the next decade. The deal gives the Penguins leeway when free agency begins July 1.

Pittsburgh is targeting at least one high-profile forward after trading Jordan Staal to Carolina last week. Crosby is good friends with New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise, and the cap room cleared by the Staal trade and the trade of defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix puts Pittsburgh at about $15 million under the $70.2 million cap for the 2012-13 season.

Known to legions as "Sid The Kid," Crosby led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009, becoming at age 21 the youngest captain to hoist the Cup in NHL history. He also has won the Hart Trophy as MVP, the Art Ross Trophy as league scoring champion, the Rocket Richard Trophy as goal-scoring champion and the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player.

In 434 career games, he has registered 223 goals and 386 assists for 609 points. He also has 90 points in 68 playoff games.

He stressed throughout the playoffs he had every intention of remaining in Pittsburgh, where he broke in after being the top overall pick in the 2005 draft.

"In an era when players often move from team to team, it's gratifying to see a young man who is so committed to one city and one franchise," Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said. "He's meant so much to the Penguins, to the growth of youth hockey in Pittsburgh, and to the NHL and the game of hockey in general. It's a tremendous feeling to know he'll be here through 2025."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.