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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Montreal Canadiens Top Priorities - Part 1 - Carey Price

Time to Pay the Price

Pardon the corny pun, I just couldn't help myself.

The season is officially over now that Steve Bernier and the Los Angeles Kings have defeated the New Jersey Devils, en route to the franchise's first Stanley Cup since joining the league in 1967.

I have to admit I was rooting for the Kings but it's a bit of a let down to see the Devils make it an interesting series with two straight wins, just to lose it all on a bad penalty.

To be clear, by bad penalty I mean the hit, not the actual call. Seeing as how I have nothing invested in either team that's just about as much as I will say on that topic.

And now, some Habs talk.

The Canadiens have recently hired a new coach for the upcoming season. Forgive me for being vague, I just feel that by writing his name I will be accepting their decision. I was going to write about the hiring but not only was the topic covered by anyone and everyone, but I figured that instead of going all out on a rant that would be full of anger and disbelief I would take a chance and give the new guy - I'm still not ready - a fair chance before attacking him.

Instead I will shift my focus to to what I believe should be Marc Bergevin's top priorities, in what is sure to be an exciting off season for the Montreal Canadiens.

I've already explored some options for the Habs at this years draft in the second installment of my Montreal Canadiens Moving Forward series, so I will dive into the RFA/UFA territory today.

I am of the belief that a winning team needs to have a top goaltender between the pipes.

Many argue that the Cup can be won without a star in the blue paint, but it seemed to me that Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist, Mike Smith and Stanley Cup/Conn Smythe winner, Jonathan Quick, were each the reason their respective teams did as well as they did.

That being said, Carey Price should be - and no doubt is - the Habs number one priority.

The Numbers

Price finished the 2011-12 season with a .916 sv% and a 2.43 GAA. Neither of those numbers scream Vezina but they are nothing to scoff at. Especially on a team that finished 27th overall with a 31-35-16 record.

The Habs first overall pick in 2005 played in 65 games posting a 26-28-11 record. Again nothing to brag about but when you consider his defense consisted of Tomas Kaberle, Yannick Weber, Chris Campoli and inconsistent rookie Raphael Diaz, it becomes easier to accept.

It should also be noted that of those 39 losses, the Canadiens scored less than two goals 26 times. In 20 of those contests the Habs were limited to one goal and were shut out on six occasions.

Needless to say, despite the Habs inability to come out on top, Price provided his team with a chance to win more often than not.

These numbers clearly show two things: One, Price can not be blamed for the Habs disastrous finish. And two, the problem clearly lies on the blue line - again, take a look at the D in front of him - and up front.

While those two problem areas need to be addressed, Price should be the first to sign on the dotted line before moving forward. The question lies in how much he is worth and for how long should he be locked down.

I, for one, am not a fan of ridiculously long contracts and would prefer to see something along the lines of five years. As for salary, I would be comfortable with Price earning somewhere in the area of four to five million per year.

Some may balk at the thought of handing over that kind of money to a goalie that has not brought home any hardware. Others hand out $7 million to Pekka Rinne, $6.74 million to Roberto Luongo $6.25 million to Ryan Miller and $51 million over nine years - $5.7 million average - to Ilya Bryzgalov.

Unlike Miller and Luongo though, Price has his best years ahead of him. Rinne no doubt will have more stellar years as his career progresses. As for Bryzgalov, well...tough to judge that character.

I've put my offer sheet on the table, what would yours be?

---

Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com

You can follow Sean on Twitter.

(Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images North America)

9 comments:

I think if your best offer to Price is a 5 year deal at 5M or less he will likely opt for a 1 year 4-4.5M and walk. We just paid Josh Gorges 3.9M and he is a solid number 3-4 d-man but nothing better than that.
I believe a 6 year, 36M deal will be the range and it may need to be a little higher per year due to the term.
You also need to factor in the Quebec Tax rate as any good agent will.
My fear is he will want around 7M and I believe there are a number of teams that would consider this type of offer if he became a UFA.

@HH

I am not overly familiar with the CBA but before a player becomes a UFA don't they need 7 years of experience? And if I am not mistaken if Price accepts a 1 year deal would he then be concluding his 6th season?

With that said it is time to lock him up long term and anyhting under $5 million like you said will not get the job done.

Pekka Rinne type numbers are not logical IMO so we need to find the right number between $5.0 and $7.0 but again IMO under $6 million.

What about a 7-10 year deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.75 million per season

I would be okay with an average of $6 mil per year. I thought about it originally but figure it puts him on top of Thomas and Fleury, two cup winners.
As for $7 mil, I started to worry when Rinne received that contract but also I'm pretty sure he was headed to free agency and so Poile's hand was forced. I could be naive but I feel Price would stay in Montreal for less than market value.

Thanks for reading!

Like Sean I am not a fan of the long term deal, 6 is my max.
I could be wrong but I thought this was Price's last year of RFA status.
I am not sure Price will stay for less than market value with the tax rate the way it is in Quebec.
I think we paid a hefty price for Gorges and I like him a lot but that tells me that when PK is up for a long term deal it will likely be in the 5-6M range as well.
We should do like we did with Price, a 2 year deal at around 2.5-3M per year, which buys us some time.

Long contracts scare me. But with Price you might not have a choice. If you go five years or less expect to pay upwards of $6.5 mil per. Sounds insane, I know...but it think that is the reality Bergevin is looking at.

wow,5-7 million for a guy who has won ONE playoff series and had 2 over 500 seasons in his nhl career? sorry, i hate the kid and i think these numbers are just totally out to lunch. lol

HfxHabby - the kid can't score the goals as well, eh. The numbers don't lie; the insanely thin D depth we had only made it worse as the year progressed, and our 1 scoring line couldn't do it alone.

That aside, i hear (or read, rather) comments about Price acknowledging that they "are building something here". I'm hoping the context of that is him taking a mild hometown discount and perhaps keeping this contract with the 6 per year range.

Anything over 2 years is either going to be 1) expensive or 2) potentially insulting to the player. But i don't think MB will be playing hardball with him, like the stand-off with the last contract.

If Niklas Backstrom can sign with Minnesota for 6M per year, Price is certainly in the drivers seat. I favor a longer contract and hope for a home-town discount. After being totally berated by the "old regime" last year, he'd be doing us a favor by gracing us with his presence for another contract.

I don't want to pay more than 5 mil a year. 5 years at 25 mil, not a bad deal for a guy has yet prove what he can do in the playoffs. He'll still be young and get offered a killer contract if he plays well over the next five.

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