On Sunday afternoon, Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens announced that they had signed franchise goalie Carey Price to a massive 8 year, $84 million contract. You can find all the details on the newly signed contract here. As mentioned in the article, Price’s contract truly is a big one. Not only does it put him as the highest paid goalie, but it also ties him for the highest cap hit of any player in the NHL. With that in mind, a debate has begun on whether or not Price actually deserved a contract this big.
Justifying Carey Price’s Contract
Despite some fans voicing concerns about the price and term of the contract, there is no doubt in my mind that Price deserved this contract. Due to his play over the past few years, Price has not only established himself as the world’s best goalie, but also one of the world’s most valuable players as a whole. Price’s numbers since the 2013-14 season look like this (ordered chronologically):
GAA: 2.32, 1.96, 2.06*, 2.23
SV%: .927, .933, .934*, .923
Wins: 34, 44, 10*, 37
SO: 6, 9, 2*, 3
These are very, very good numbers, especially considering the team in front of him has never been amazing.
He has also won several individual and team awards both in the NHL and internationally since 2014. His awards are listed below by year.
2014: 2014 Sochi Olympics Gold Medal, 2014 Sochi Olympics Best Goaltender
2015: Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, William M. Jennings Award
2016: 2016 World Cup of Hockey Gold Medal
Price already has quite the arsenal to his name and still has a few of his best years ahead of him to add to it.
On top of everything, Price has been the main reason Montreal has had success in the past several years, constantly stealing games the Habs have no business of winning. Carey Price is more valuable to his team than any other player in the league. Without Price, who knows where the Habs would be. If the Habs had lost Price next year in free agency, they would have years of abysmal seasons and missed playoffs ahead of them. The Habs needed to bring Price at all costs in order to succeed, and everyone, including the Habs management, knew this. Due to this, the Habs had to match whatever Price wanted. For this reason, alone GM Marc Bergevin was justified to offer a contract this big. Add this reason to his amazing play and numbers, and Habs fans should have no problem with the contract.
Although the contract is justifiable, you still cannot deny that it will put the Habs in cap hell for years to come. Barring any league salary cap changes, Price will be taking up 14% of Montreal’s. When we add this to the other big and long Habs contracts with Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Karl Alzner, Jonathan Drouin, Andrew Shaw, and Brendan Gallagher, the soon to be newly signed contracts with Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty, and the potential re-additions of free agents Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov, it is very clear that the Habs will not have much to work with aside from these players.
We have seen how bad being in the position of investing so much of your team’s cap space into select players can be by looking at what the Chicago Blackhawks have been going through since the Kane/Toews contracts. They keep on having to trade and move out key players (i.e. Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Sharp, Artemi Panarin, etc.) as they simply cannot afford them anymore. Due to this, they have not been able to find the success that they used to have and have not made it past the 1st round since their last Stanley Cup win.
It is now up to Marc Bergevin to overcome this major problem and continues to put out a contending team with little cap space to work with. Bergevin already made note of this in his Sunday press conference stating that it is now up to him to work on Price’s new contract. This leads us to our next question; What exactly does this mean for Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens?
Results Of The Cap Problems
In order to deal with these cap issues, Bergevin will have to start taking part in a style which we have not yet seen with the Habs. Firstly, he will need to start shipping off players that will hurt the Habs roster in a significant way. The players who are most likely to be traded by Bergevin are the fringe key players. Bergevin will likely not want to move any of their top guys, so it will be these players who are still good, but not the teams best players that will sadly be on their way out. Some players that fit this description are Andrew Shaw, Karl Alzner and potentially even a guy like Brendan Gallagher. Losing any one of these guys would be a big loss for the Habs, and with each loss, they would be taking a step away from contending.
Another thing that will need to start happening is the increased deployment of younger players. The Habs will not be able to afford too many bigger contracts and will have to slot in these younger and cheaper players to fill out the lineup. We will start seeing more guys like Charles Hudon, Mike McCarron, Nikita Scherbak, Jacob De La Rose, and Noah Juulsen get more playing time in more significant roles with the Habs. While this may not be too bad of a thing, the Habs poor prospect development may cause problems. The Habs have been the worst team in the NHL when it comes to graduating prospect in the AHL to the NHL. This will have to change if the Habs hope to have good players to fill in these positions mentioned.
Overall, Carey Price deserved this contract. Whether you agree or disagree with me, there is no arguing that Bergevin will have a lot of work to do in order to solve the Habs upcoming cap problems. Be sure to vote in the poll below on whether you think this was a good deal or not. Also feel free to leave a comment justifying your decision in the poll.