The Canadiens showed Carey Price exactly how valuable he is to the team Sunday, inking the netminder to a massive eight-year, $84-million contract extension.
The Montreal Canadiens are more than happy to build their future around Carey Price, and they made as much clear Sunday afternoon when they inked the 29-year-old netminder to a monster eight-year, $84-million contract, the largest deal ever signed by an NHL keeper.
Signing Price long-term was always the goal for Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin heading into the summer and it’s something Price himself had expressed great interest in upon Montreal’s season coming to a close. It was always assumed that Price, who was heading into the final year of his current deal, would sign a big-money deal, too, with some speculating he would earn upwards of $9 million per season. The $10.5 million cap hit, however, is on par with the richest deals signed by any players in the league, matching the twin eight-year, $84-million contracts the Chicago Blackhawks handed to star duo Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
While full details of Price’s deal are still becoming clear, it appears to be one that follows the recent trend of players earning the majority — or at least a large portion — of their money through signing bonuses. It’s the so-called lockout protection, and Price has it in spades. According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Price is set to earn an eye-popping $70 million of his contract in signing bonuses, which means his actual season-long salary is a mere $1.75 million.
For some, there will be little shock in Price landing such a deal. After all, he’s widely regarded as the best goaltender in the world, an Olympic and World Cup champion who won dual MVP honors along with the Vezina Trophy in 2014-15. Additionally, of netminders to play at least 100 games over the past four seasons, Price boasts far and away the best save percentage, a .928 mark, lowest goals-against average at 2.16, the fourth-most shutouts with 20 and his 125 wins are the seventh-most of any netminder. None of this is to mention that over the same span, compared to the same crop of netminders, Price’s .938 SP at 5-on-5 is tops in the league, yet another testament to his performance leading up to this deal.
Taking all of that into consideration, it’s no wonder Price is cashing in like no netminder before him. That said, the deal isn’t without its drawbacks.
First and foremost, there has to be concern about Price’s contract down the line. An eight-year deal keeps Price in Montreal until his 38th birthday, a time when his play could be starting to steadily drop off. There’s no knowing if that will be the case, of course. Martin Brodeur was in the Vezina conversation at 37, as were other goaltending greats such as Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek. Even Roberto Luongo was able to put together a strong enough season to earn a fourth-place finish in Vezina voting as a 36-year-old in 2015-16. There’s no knowing that Price will maintain his level, however, and that has to be at least somewhat worrisome.
There also may be some concern about the Canadiens’ cap situation in the coming years. Price’s deal consumes 14 percent of Montreal’s cap space for next season, should the cap remain flat, and the extra $4 million per season he’s earning over his past deal is the equivalent of at least one or two quality roster players. That wouldn’t be a concern if the Canadiens had a prime crop of prospects up and down the lineup, but the system is a little thin and utilizing free agency to bulk up the roster is going to be difficult without the money to do so.
Montreal may also need to worry about where the cap space comes from to retain the likes of Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk — who may or may not still be a Canadien in a few years’ time — down the line.
For the time being, though, the deal is a sign that the Canadiens are confident in Price’s ability to remain the face of the franchise well into his 30s, and Montreal is all-in on Price as the biggest piece of their Stanley Cup puzzle.