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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Last week, Carey Price signed a contract that was for the most money in franchise history. There's no denying just how valuable and important he is to the Canadiens but was a six year, $39 million deal the right way to go, or would a smaller or longer one have been more beneficial? Having had some time to sit and ponder this, our writers offer up their thoughts on the contract.
Kevin Beaumont: $6.5 million is a lot of dough. Still, when considering Price’s value to the team - he is the undeniable MVP - coupled with the tax situation in Quebec (in a southern market he would take home $500,000 or so more dollars), the price seems pretty reasonable. Contract negotiations are often based on the whole of a players statistics and do not reflect sudden lapses of composure. The few times that Carey appeared to crumble under the pressure were not as weighty as his NHL career win/loss record (124-104-35), save percentage (.916) and goals against average (2.56) when having to decide on a figure. This may also be a case of paying for potential. Although Price has never won a trophy at the NHL level (besides the Molson Cup), he is one of the youngest starting goaltenders in the league and arguably one of the best. All in all, the six and a half could seem high now, but three or four years down the road may appear as a bargain - let us hope so.
Brian La Rose: Although I'm not a big fan of long term deals, 6 years feels right. It's not a crazy double-digit term but at the same time, it's long enough that we won't be talking about him possibly walking to free agency in a couple of years. I'm not too happy with the money though. When you consider the likely decrease in the salary cap, Price's deal could be taking upwards of 10% of the cap - I personally think a tandem should be making 10% at the most. It's not a cap-crippling overpay by any stretch (unless he completely forgets how to play the position or hires Rick DiPietro's personal trainer) so it's nothing to get too upset about and it solidifies an area where there is absolutely nothing coming in the pipeline. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the lack of depth argument was made somewhere in the talks by his agent. Price has long been thought of as the Habs' franchise player. With this deal, any possible doubt has been removed.
Alex Létourneau: Marc Bergevin got it right with Carey Price. Even though both camps were positive about signing after season’s end, I like the fact that they put him towards arbitration to really show the organization wanted to keep him and wouldn’t entertain the idea of trading his rights or anything like that. The length and term suit me fine. He’s among the elite goaltenders in the NHL and had he been on a better team, his stats and contributions could probably have pushed him into Vezina talk. He’s proved over the last two seasons that Bob Gainey got something right when he called him a ‘thoroughbred’ and if he can put in 65-70 games at the level he already has for the next six years, maybe the drought will end. Bottom line, he’s slated by many pundits to raise his game to a level higher than what we’ve seen. Turning 25 next month, he’s regarded as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL and that comes at a price. Now let’s see what the Canadiens build around him.
Norm Szcyrek: The signing of Price is a bit of a relief this early in the off season, this time. Two seasons ago, the Habs and Price could not come to terms on a contract until September, which made several fans wonder about the future of their franchise player. Since then, he performed great in his first season of that contract, then average for the second season. I say he was average but temper it by saying the Habs record last season could have been much worse if he was not their starting goalie. On the other hand, there were few games last season that I can remember seeing where I thought Carey stole a game for his team. Regardless, the length of the term is a little long and the cost per season is a little high for my liking. I may be old fashioned but I think it is too risky to link a team to any athlete for more than 5 seasons. However if the new coaches can turn around this team and the team can better support their goalie, then Price's performance contract may seem like a relative bargain.
Mitchell Tierney: Carey Price is one of the top 5 goaltenders in the world, bar none. But among those top goaltenders he may be the best equipped to play in Montreal. Henrik Lundqvist is the notable exception to a top 5 goaltender list that would crack under the pressure of playing in one of largest markets in international hockey. That is why both the term and the number on the Carey Price contract is right. It is not by any means a bargain for the Canadiens but Price could have asked for a lot longer at more money. Long-term goaltending contracts like that signed recently by Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick are dangerous at best. While this contract is significant it isn't incredibly damaging should Price not turn out to be the goaltender he currently is in the future. This contract also leaves plenty of room to build a team around Price, something that may have factored into the negotiations. In conclusion, Carey Price's contract was about right and Habs fans should be happy that their franchise player is locked up long term.