As anticipated, the Habs wasted little time taking care of Carey Price’s new contract, signing the netminder to an eight year, $84 million extension on Sunday. The deal won’t begin until the 2018-19 season and is the biggest contract given to a goaltender in NHL history as well as the largest deal in Canadiens history.
Price has been with the Canadiens since they made him the fifth overall pick back in the 2005 draft and this deal ensures that he’ll be sticking around for a whole lot longer.
Then-GM Bob Gainey envisioned Price as the goalie of the future when they picked him and they wasted little time getting him to the NHL, giving him 41 games as a 20 year old rookie back in 2007-08. His first few seasons were full of ups-and-downs and at one point there was a push from some fans that they should move Price and keep Jaroslav Halak as the starter instead. We all know what happened there and it was after Halak was dealt that Price started to play like the goalie he is today.
In his first season as the undisputed starter back in 2010-11, Price set a career high in games played with 72 and solidified himself as a high end number one. He followed that up with another quality season the next year and GM Marc Bergevin, who had just taken over the job, made it a priority to get Price signed long-term and did just that, giving him a six year, $39 million deal that he will play the final season of in 2017-18.
While at the time the contract was viewed by some as risky, Price has more than lived up to his end of the deal. Through the five seasons since signing, he has compiled a 146-71-20 record with a 2.23 GAA, a .925 SV%, and 23 shutouts. He also won himself a whole lot of hardware in 2014-15, taking home the Hart, Vezina, Pearson, and Jennings Trophies. Montreal also got a good look at how important he was in 2015-16 when Price missed most of the season and we all know what happened afterwards.
The question as the Habs head towards 2018-19 will be how to fit in this $10.5 million cap hit, the highest in the league (for a few days at least). While it isn’t as drastic a jump as the contract that Connor McDavid in Edmonton is close to signing, it’s still an increase that will almost assuredly exceed the amount that the cap will go up by for that season. They will have some money coming off the books for that season as Tomas Plekanec and his $6 million will be gone and as things stand, most of his money will be earmarked towards covering Price’s extension.
The discussion will undoubtedly turn towards whether or not the Habs should have pushed Price to take less or that the soon-to-be 30 year should have accepted a hometown discount to give the team more money to work with to build a team around him. Given how important Price has been over these past few years, Bergevin surely felt that he needed to get him signed for the long haul, no matter the cost at the end of the day.