Rafael Harvey-Pinard was one of three restricted free agents that could file for arbitration later this week but that won’t be needed now as the Canadiens announced they’ve signed the winger to a two-year deal. It’s a one-way contract in both years and carries a cap hit of $1.1 million. The agreement is slightly frontloaded, paying a $1.2 million salary in 2023-24 and a $1 million salary the following year; that latter figure will represent his qualifying offer in 2025.
The 24-year-old started the season in Laval and had a quality first half of the season, notching 15 goals with 10 assists in 37 games. Those numbers were down a bit on a per-game basis from 2021-22 when he had 56 points in 69 contests but he was a go-to scorer for the Rocket.
When the injury bug hit hard in Montreal, Harvey-Pinard was recalled in mid-January and he immediately became a spark plug for the Habs. He wound up becoming a strong contributor in the second half, scoring 14 goals in just 34 games, albeit with an unsustainable shooting percentage of 24.1. Despite playing in fewer than half the games, Harvey-Pinard finished in the top ten in scoring for the Canadiens.
Late in the season, the Habs loaned Harvey-Pinard back to Laval to help in their playoff push. He picked up six points in their final three games to help earn them a spot although they were quickly ousted in the play-in round.
It’s worth noting that Harvey-Pinard remains waiver-exempt to start next season (until he plays in 32 more NHL games). While he has certainly earned a regular spot with the Canadiens, if the team doesn’t move out any forwards between now and then, that waiver exemption could work against him in training camp. In that scenario, his entire cap hit could be buried in Laval.
Regardless of what happens, Harvey-Pinard has more than earned this contract and has proven to be more than worth the seventh-round selection they used on him back in 2019.
Montreal has five remaining restricted free agents to deal with – defenceman Nicolas Beaudin along with forwards Alex Newhook, Jesse Ylonen, Lucas Condotta, and Mitchell Stephens; the latter two are the remaining ones eligible for arbitration.