On Wednesday, the Habs made somewhat of a surprise announcement by signing 2010 first rounder Jarred Tinordi to a 3 year, entry level contract. Although he won’t be joining the big club any time soon (he’s ineligible unless emergency conditions arise), there are still some benefits to getting this done before the June 1st deadline.
Cap savings: By signing the deal now and having his deal slide* a year, the amount of his cap hit will be reduced by one third of his signing bonus. This happened with Louis Leblanc whose cap hit is now $30,000 per year less than what it was at the time he signed the deal.
*A contract is eligible to ‘slide’ back a year if it is signed prior to the player turning 20 and that player does not play in 10 or more games in that NHL season. (That’s the gist of it at least.)
Focus: Tinordi is a top pairing defenceman for an upstart London team that is presently ranked #1 in the CHL. With what could be a long playoff run looming ahead, having a contract negotiation come playoff time is not something anyone wants him to have in the back of his mind. With this done, he can simply focus on the season at hand.
Less for later: By waiting to sign most of their prospects, Montreal will have quite a few players to sign prior to the June 1st deadline. (For those curious, Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, Morgan Ellis, and John Westin all have to be signed by then.) This is one less thing for Pierre Gauthier (and likely assistant GM Larry Carriere) to worry about later on when it’s closer to the deadline.
Hedge against a breakout: This is a bit of a stretch since Tinordi’s not exactly the second coming of Paul Coffey but if he were to have a more improved season offensively, this could up his contract demands. Signing him now more or less ‘hedges’ the Habs’ bets.
Are these very minor reasons? Sure they are as there are generally only minor benefits to locking prospects up early. I suspect it more or less came down to the question of why wait? If both sides are happy with a deal, get it done and move on. It’s nice to see the Habs buck the usual trend (Leblanc being a rare exception himself) and getting these guys signed early.