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Why We Like The Carey Price Deal…

Carey Price signed a two-year deal with the Habs today, for an annual cap hit of $2.75 million dollars.This deal is more than fair to both parties and I like it a lot.

1. It keeps Price hungry.

The message in this deal is clear: Price needs to perform at a higher level if he wants to earn that big multi-year contract. That’s a good thing.

True, signing Price to a short-term deal now may cost the Habs more in the long run. If Price performs well in the next two years, he will be asking for HUGE money. So yes, by comparison, Price would have been cheaper on the 3rd and 4th years of a long-term contract if he had signed for them now.

BUT – if the Habs HAD signed Price to a 4 or 5-year deal, like Eric suggested on last week’s podcast, who is to say that Price would have found the right motivation to perform at his very top level? All professional athletes, young goalies especially, are susceptible to a performance drop-off after signing a big deal in the same way that most athletes perform better in a contract year. It’s human nature.

No, in my mind, Carey Price develops into a better goalie if he stays sharp and hungry now and over the next two years. He has something to prove and that’s a good position for a young athlete to be in.

In two years time, if Price does well, I am sure the Habs will find the money and cap space to pay him accordingly. It will be tough, but they will do it.

As an aside: this deal signs Price at a full $1million LESS than the deal Halak signed with the St.Louis Blues. Athletes are competitive by nature. Don’t think for a second that Price won’t be checking Halak’s stats throughout the year and comparing them to his own. For that matter, every Habs fan will be keeping running tabs on the two goalies throughout the year. Price is aware of that, too.

2. It protects the Habs if Price fails.

Carey Price is only 23 years old and has only played in the NHL for three seasons. He may turn out to be a great goalie. But if he doesn’t, the Habs can wash their hands of him and move on.

This also reveals something else. If the Habs were 100% sure that Price will pan out they way they hope, they would have signed him to a longer deal now. But they do not have that certainty. Better to play it safe than be stuck with a bad 4-year deal with little wiggle room.

3. It’s reasonable on the cap

Before today, the Habs had just over $4.1 million in extra salary cap space. Price’s deal is extremely reasonable, as it still leaves them with about $1.38 million dollars in cap space . That leaves plenty of room for a late season trade at the deadline, when the Habs would only be responsible for the REMAINDER of that player’s contract.

My math may be a little off, but if Gauthier feels the need, he could trade for a pending UFA forward who is earning about $5million a year. Pending UFA’s happen to include Brad Richards and Alex Semin, among others.

It also insulates Gauthier a little bit in case he has to compensate for injuries (like last year when Gainey traded for MAB after Markov went down).

That’s a nice chip to have.

But on the other hand…..

One thing that still gnaws at me: Dominic Moore was signed by Tampa Bay at $1.1 million dollars. He wasn’t signed by the Habs, according to Pierre Gauthier, because of “salary cap reasons”. Jaroslav Halak was traded away, according to Pierre Gauthier, also because of “salary cap reasons”.

Well, unless Gauthier has something else up his sleeve, and he might, I think its safe to say the Habs could have kept Halak instead of Price if they had wanted to. Sure, the cap squeeze would have been tighter, but it was possible. If the Habs opted to stick with Price, which they did, they could also have kept Moore if they wanted to.

The real reason players like Halak and Moore were not signed: Dollar for dollar, Pierre Gauthier thinks Price will be a better goalie than Halak. And Gauthier did not want to re-sign Moore because he wants the younger kids to have a shot to perform this year (re: Lars Eller).

This just says to me that Gauthier used the cap as a bit of an easy excuse to explain his player personnel decisions, another reminder to never fully believe what a General Manager says to the media.

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#1 Matt Garofalo on 09.02.10 at 6:11 pm

i like your perspective. and i agree with your final points. i would have liked to see dominic back and i try to justify his reasoning but at the end of the day his cap hit is as friendly as it gets and he broke up a good thing between him and maxim.lets not forget who got us a gwg against the caps.
I havent seen much of boyd however he could make us forget moore real fast.

#2 Patrick on 09.02.10 at 6:30 pm

Hey Matt: I agree with you. But I think Gauthier is thinking beyond this season. It would be tough to sign Moore for two years, even at $1.1 million, because after this season, Gauthier has to re-sign Markov (likely between $6 – $7 million), give Gorges a nice raise (between $2million and $3 million), and find replacements for Hamrlik, Gill, and probably Andrei Kostitsyn.
For this year, I bet Gauthier is hoping that young guys like Boyd, Eller, Pyatt and Subban develop enough that the team actually improves over last year’s, and that other players like MaxPac and maybe Avtsin or even Leblanc could challenge for a job next year, thus allowing the Habs to keep the core and stay under the cap without any sacrifices.