On Friday morning, the Habs locked up their longest-tenured forward for another two seasons as Tomas Plekanec inked an extension worth $12 million for a cap hit of $6 million. That represents a $1 million increase on his current contract.
Plekanec was drafted in the 3rd round by the Canadiens in 2001 and has been a lifelong Hab since then. He has been Montreal’s #1 centre for many years now and is a staple on the power play and penalty kill. In his last eight full NHL seasons (excluding the lockout-shortened year), he has hit the 20 goal plateau seven times and recorded at least 39 points in each of those eight years.
Last season was one of Plekanec’s best as he recorded 26 goals and 34 assists while playing all 82 games. This was the third highest point total of his career and the best since 2009-10. Plekanec is off to a strong start this year with a team-high (tied) four goals in five games while averaging 19:30 of ice time per night.
While the cap hit may seem high, it is part of the trade-off for not giving the soon-to-be 33 year old a long-term deal. With no cheaper years to tack on at the back of the contract, the cap hit is going to be higher. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the deal is somewhat frontloaded as he’ll reportedly earn $7 million in 2016-17 and $5 million in 2017-18. As per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, there are no trade restrictions (NTC or NMC) in the contract.
The term of the deal is noteworthy as there are now five Habs who will be UFA’s after the 2017-18 season. Most notable among those is goalie Carey Price; the others are Lars Eller, Greg Pateryn, and Torrey Mitchell.