With Sean Monahan’s acquisition, many were expecting a follow-up move to be made. There wasn’t and GM Kent Hughes indicated why on Thursday, stating that Carey Price will be on LTIR to start the season.
Price had a PRP injection earlier this offseason, hoping that doing so would help his recovery. Hughes indicated during his press scrum that this wasn’t the case which is part of the reason why he won’t be ready in October. More will be known about his situation next month when he undergoes his training camp physical.
After the season, Price said it would be unlikely that he’d be able to play moving forward with his knees the way they were. Rehab alone hasn’t fixed the problem so he’s basically in the same spot he was back in April when he pushed his way through a handful of starts. Following the last one against Florida, he mentioned that he prepared for it as if it would be his final game. While things could still change, that scenario looks like a distinct possibility now.
Hughes mentioned that it would be next to impossible for Price to have a chance to return without undergoing an operation which would then require another significant rehab period. If you’re looking for indications about whether he might try to return, a decision for him to eventually undergo surgery would be the telling sign of his intentions.
From a cap perspective, this will ease any short-term concerns. Even after adding Monahan, Montreal has around $4 million left under their eventual ACSL ceiling. That’s ample room to eventually sign Kirby Dach to a bridge deal and perhaps add another right-shot defender. With Hughes suggesting there’s a very good chance Price doesn’t play at all this season, the short-term cap pressures are gone which is why there isn’t a follow-up trade coming.
That said, there is a longer-term cap pressure to consider still, the bonus overages. A team that spends all year in LTIR will have all of their bonuses count against the cap the following season. For Montreal, that means any bonuses that Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky, Kaiden Guhle, Justin Barron, and Jordan Harris (perhaps others as well) hit would go against the books in 2023-24. Depending on what happens, that should fall somewhere within the $2.5 million to $3 million range. Ideally, they don’t want their cap for 2023-24 shrunk by that much money if they can avoid it.
For them to avoid that penalty, they will need to dip out of LTIR by the end of the season and bank a fair bit of cap space. The closer they get to spending all of Price’s $10.5 million cap hit, the harder that will be to do, even with the eventual sell-off that’s expected at the deadline. When assessing their next moves, the bonus situation will be an important consideration as a result.
But that’s for the number crunchers. This news on Price, while not entirely surprising, is still disappointing in that the long-time veteran continues to battle knee issues to the point where his career won’t be ending on his own terms. That’s tough for any player but especially for one that has been the face of the franchise for more than a decade.