The Montreal Canadiens may not have been able to trade Sean Monahan at the NHL Trade Deadline, but they could keep him and try again next year.
The Canadiens now have the ability to offer Monahan a second chance to redeem himself in the NHL in the form of a one-year, bonus-laden contract.
Normally, performance bonuses are only found in the contracts of young players on entry-level deals or for players that are above 35 years of age.
There is, however, a third option, which is very rare to see in the NHL, but relevant to Monahan.
According to the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), a player who has played 400 or more games in the NHL and spent 100 or more days on Injured Reserve (Or Long-Term Injury Reserve) in the last year of their contract, is eligible
Here is the exact wording from the CBA:
“Players who are “400-plus game Players” for pension purposes, and who: (i) in the last year of their most recent SPC, spent 100 days or more on the Injured Reserve List; and (ii) have signed a one-year SPC for the current or upcoming League Year.”
With Monahan having played 681 games up to date and having missed the last 89 days and counting, the Canadiens will have some interesting options with Monahan should he not return to play before March 16.
How Montreal Canadiens Could Make It Work
For starters, there are two types of performance bonuses in the NHL:
Schedule A Bonus: Basic conditions like playing 60+ games, scoring 20 goals, etc (max of $1M)
Schedule B Bonus: League-wide award (Art Ross, Selke, etc) and team-determined parameters (max of $2.5M)
The Montreal Canadiens could, in theory, offer Sean Monahan a contract worth $2M in base, with an additional $2M available in performance bonuses.
Such a contract could be structured primarily around Monahan’s ability to play games and produce points.
Thus, having bonuses could allow the Canadiens to easily fit him within their salary structure for now, and possibly deferring his performance bonus hits (should he meet them) to the following season; as the Canadiens will likely be using LTIR next season as well.
If the Canadiens were to make those bonuses relatively easy to hit, an interested buyer at next year’s NHL Trade Deadline won’t be on the hook for the carry-over cap hit; only if Monahan achieves the bonus condition while playing for them.
Thus, the Canadiens could sign Monahan to a cheap base contract, absorb all of the bonus hits via next-season carryover, and trade him to a contender next season for a very interesting return; health permitting.