Carey Price’s record setting extension is the latest of big moves in a busy offseason for the Habs. Having had some time to digest the deal, our writers offer up their thoughts on the eight year, $84 million contract.
Gordon Black: I think this is probably what most people expected. There were some that hoped he would take a big discount for the team and re-up long term for $8 or $9 million – at the same time there were those that were fearful of something in the $11 – $13 million dollar range. The fact that those fears were shared by many in the mainstream (Bob McKenzie, etc.) media as potentially realistic hypotheticals should tell you all you need to know about Price’s perceived value around the league.
He is a franchise player in the true sense of the word and will now get paid as such. He is also a consummate pro and dedicated to his fitness so there is less worry there about the end of this deal, and whether he will continue to perform at his current levels. The deal will not hamstring the Habs as long as GM Marc Bergevin manages the rest of his cap more strategically than he has in the past. As an example, heading into the playoffs, would you rather have Alexei Emelin and Tomas Plekanec at over $10 million in cap space or Price at $10.5?
All in all it is a good signing that had to happen (which doesn’t always mean it will… John Tavares *cough*, *cough*) for the team to move forward confidently and without being sidetracked by media and fans all year long. And given the respect that Price and Shea Weber seem to carry around the NHL, knowing they will be leading the Habs for the next eight years may be just the kind of long-term stability that big-name free agents may be looking for should they decide to hit the market this summer or next.
Brian La Rose: Count me among those who thought this might come in a bit cheaper but at the end of the day, Bergevin didn’t have much of a choice here. If he decided to not sign Price and trade him instead, they wouldn’t have got the type of return you’d expect to get for a franchise player. Most times, the trade market for goaltenders isn’t particularly robust. And with that off the table, signing him was a lot better of an option than letting him go.
The term is the more concerning part but again, the eight years was pretty much a given. It’s unlikely that Price will be among the elite goaltenders in the league by the time his contract is done (or within a couple of years of ending) which is going to make it one of those ‘albatross’ deals that is so difficult to move. But that’s a long way (and probably another GM and coach) down the road. For the next several years, one of the NHL’s top netminders is locked up. It’s hard to be too upset at that.
Paul MacLeod: Two thoughts: too much term and too much money. Price is a great goaltender but as the only team to build from the net out, Bergevin is either a visionary who will bring back the Cup or a misguided GM who will be fired in two years if their playoff futility continues. I would rather have seen Price traded. I hope I am wrong but I don t see a Cup in Montreal’s near future. Could they trade Bergevin to Toronto for Lou Lamoriello?
Norm Szcyrek: Wow, that $84 million contract is a big one, there’s no doubt. Price is the team’s only superstar so it was expected he was going to demand and get the biggest contract in team history. I personally hoped the cap hit would be a little lower, perhaps between $500,000 and $1 million, but I’m sure his agent used the usual argument about the high Quebec and Canadian taxes to get the amount a little higher. Price will now be the highest paid goalie in NHL history starting in 2018, assuming no one else surpasses him between now and then.
What I found most interesting about this deal was the enormous signing bonus. I could not find the exact breakdown but some pundits report that it represents $70 million out of the total $84 million. That bonus works out to around 83.3% of the entire contract! Of course that bonus will likely be doled out each season. Since the NHL and NHLPA both have an option to opt out of their CBA before the start of the 2019 season, then I assume Price’s signing bonus will be higher that year. The CBA expires in September 2022 so I also expect Price’s signing bonus to be higher that year; both of these moves represent some insurance against a lockout for the player, and other NHL players have these types of clauses in their contracts.
What’s really significant about this contract is this high signing bonus percentage. It’s possible that the Habs have started a new trend, as I predict other NHL stars will be asking for similar deals; who wouldn’t want to get the majority of their season’s salary on their bonus signing day? Given that the Habs are one of the richest NHL franchises, they can afford to offer large signing bonuses like this so that may represent an advantage for them. I can also predict that other teams will try to incorporate a limit to the percentage amount signing bonuses can represent when the next round of CBA negotiations begins.
Dave Woodward: We all knew Price would write his contract and the Canadiens would in essence sign it. Over the past two seasons, the Habs have demonstrated that they are not even a playoff team without him. With Price and some tweaking, the Canadiens may be a secondary contender. However, unless they win a championship in the next 3-4 years, this contract will more than likely come back to haunt them. The cap hit of $10.5M is $2M more than the next highest paid goalie in the NHL, Henrik Lundqvist. The cap hit will no doubt complicate the Habs’ efforts to retain their core in even the medium term as certain team-friendly contracts expire (e.g., Max Pacioretty’s contract). The eight-year term is even more troubling. Athletes rarely remain at the top of their game for more than a decade. Price has been in his prime for about five years already. What are the chances of Price remaining among the elite netminders for the duration of this contract? Not good. For example, notwithstanding the Rangers’ elimination of the Canadiens in Round One this past Spring, Lundqvist’s 8.5M cap hit is not looking good for the Blueshirts. At 34 and with substantial mileage on the odometer, Lundquist is slowing down.
The Canadiens have two or possibly three (Charlie Lindgren, Michael McNiven, and Zach Fucale) elite goaltending prospects in the system. If one of them realizes their potential and can perform similarly to Price, Price’s contract will make it difficult to move him. There really was no alternative but to make Carey Price the highest paid goaltender in the NHL but there was no hometown discount here. The term and the cap hit will present major challenges for Marc Bergevin and his successor(s).