When the Canadiens general manager decided earlier this week to ask Carey Price to drop his lock-in clause for Seattle’s upcoming expansion draft, he rolled the dice on losing his goalie for nothing July 21.
Bergevin did it to give himself the best opportunity to keep both Price and substitute Jake Allen, but he also did it knowing it was anything but guaranteed.
But if Bergevin is to lose one of his two goalkeepers, earlier on Saturday, Kraken general manager Ron Francis (ironically) offered the best explanation as to why his Montreal counterpart would be willing to accept that he s act of Price.
“The only thing that we think is extremely, extremely valuable in this environment,” Francis said, “is the ceiling space”.
No other GM would disagree.
The NHL has suffered billions of losses over the past 17 months of most of the two playoffs and abridged two-season games with no fans present, and the upper limit of the salary cap is expected to remain at $ 81.5 million as of today. over the next four years because of that. It created a lot of headaches for the general managers of the league, and Bergevin is no exception.
Price is less than a month away from celebrating his 34th birthday, he’s locked into a contract with a cap of $ 10.5 million for each of the next five years, and that’s a lot of precious space. used on a goalie who has fallen off the pedestal in recent regular seasons – even though he had a superstar performance in the bubble last year before doing the same to lead the Canadiens to the final of the Stanley Cup this year. Injuries have racked up more than trophies over his 14 seasons in Montreal, and it’s true he can’t handle the same workload that got him labeled a thoroughbred by the man who l ‘drafted (Bob Gainey).
All of this reinforced Allen’s value to Bergevin. The 30-year-old, who is aiming for a cap of $ 2.875 million in each of the next two seasons, has helped the Canadiens advance to the playoffs so Price can get them through, and it’s the same pattern. that the CEO wishes to keep by making this decision.
Hedging against Price’s potential loss to Seattle rests with Allen. It’s on Cayden Primeau, 21, who is waiting backstage and planning to be a future No.1. And it’s on the goalie market, which will open on July 28 when free agency kicks off and offers reasonable prices and talented interim solutions.
But before Saturday, Price’s contract was considered immovable – with good reason – and Bergevin reckons that this is still the case.
Price is set to receive an $ 11 million signing bonus in September 2021, and he will earn a minimum of $ 5.5 million up front for each remaining season under contract. His actual salary will be $ 13 million for next season and he will never drop below $ 7.5 million at any time. And although he lifted his no-move clause for the expansion project, he will keep it if he’s claimed by the Kraken (meaning they can’t claim him and then send him back to another team. without his consent).
If all of this – plus what Price is doing on the cap – doesn’t worry Francis, he’s not doing his job right.
But even Bergevin should know that part of this concern can be alleviated by several factors.
Start with this one: Of the 31 players the Kraken will choose, none of them will come with the pedigree or notoriety of Price, a former Hart, Vezina and Ted Lindsay-Award winner who also has two medals from Olympic gold on his coat. There will be great players available for the franchise, but none can serve as adequately as the face of it.
And as one executive noted after Saturday’s news broke, “The Kraken will get all that signing bonus money back on jersey sales within hours of Price landing in Seattle.” “
Price’s wife Angela is from Washington state, and the family spent their last offseason there. And Price, born in Anahim Lake, BC, would certainly help convert more than a few Vancouverites into Kraken fans, expanding the team’s reach and merchandise sales.
So for Francis, it won’t be as much of the $ 44.25million left over from his eight-year, $ 84million contract price as it is the 13% of Seattle’s annual cap that will be devoured over the course of each. of the next four seasons. And yes, that will be a big part of this last year as well, even if the cap goes up.
Would the Kraken really want to do it?
There will be several good (and much cheaper) goalies available to them on Wednesday. There will also be several star (and expensive) level skaters. And for Canadians only, they might consider attractive options outside of the fold.
Francis says he was allowed to spend up to the cap and could do so by combining the expansion plan, trade and free agency.
If he does, would he be tempted to hook Shea Weber?
The Montreal captain is said to be too injured to continue playing and will be left unprotected by the Canadians. He could be placed in the long-term injury reserve for the remainder of his five-year contract, and taking it would allow Francis to exceed his salary cap of $ 7.87 million each year.
Francis could have the same opportunity with Jonathan Drouin. If the talented 26-year-old isn’t protected, he’s already in LTIR and has a cap of $ 5.5 million for each of the next two seasons.
It’s almost guaranteed that 22-year-old right-hander Cale Fleury will be on display. He’s a talented and tough restricted free agent with a qualifying offer worth about $ 9.5 million less than Price will count towards next season’s cap.
There will be other options, and we’ll find out what they are on Sunday – not just Canadians, but all teams.
Bergevin will have to hope that Francis’ plans will allow him to avoid the former fifth overall pick in 2005. And if his bet doesn’t pay off, at least he will have what Francis correctly called the most valuable commodity in the world. this environment.