The Montreal Canadiens will need to negotiate an extension with the emerging Rafaël Harvey-Pinard this summer, and this is what it could look like.
The 24-year-old has made the most of his recent stint with the Canadiens this season, registering 13 goals and five assists for 18 points in 31 games this season.
He’s quickly risen up the ranks since his call-up in January to become an indispensable member of the team down the stretch with his commitment to defence and relentless work ethic.
It’s provided the former 7th-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft with the necessary platform to show general manager Kent Hughes exactly what he could bring to an NHL roster on a regular basis.
It’s fair to say that Harvey-Pinard has more than earned a spot on this team next year, but next comes the difficult part: how much does that cost?
Given the limited amount of experience and his age, it will be a tricky contract to negotiate, as the sudden offensive explosion from the gritty forward puts Hughes in an area with very few comparables across the league.
This isn’t a former top pick finally hitting his stride, nor is it a youngster with 200+ games finally finding his stride; Harvey-Pinard is an underdog that continually has to prove himself.
That’s exactly what his next contract is likely to look like then, as the famed “show me” style bridge contract would be the best middle-ground for both parties.
Here are some examples of similar types of players from around the league that could be used as comparables this spring:
Canadiens Contract Comparables
Blake Lizotte – Two Years, $1.675M
At the moment of his signing, Blake Lizotte had over 180 games under his belt and had registered 19 goals and 38 assists for 57 points, while playing most fourth-line minutes.
At the age of 24, he had finally been able to secure a more consistent role on the L.A. Kings, putting up ten goals and 14 assists for 24 points in 70 games.
Given his strong two-way play and his growth during the season, the Kings decided to offer a two-year bridge deal to their young centre in hopes that he could develop into something more moving forward.
That’s exactly what he’s done, currently holding down the third-line centre position and sporting a career-high in points with 30 in 73 games.
Eetu Luostarinen – Two Years, $1.5M AAV
The Florida Panthers made a very smart decision when they decided to offer Eetu Luostarinen a bridge deal last summer, as it was evident that the youngster was ready to break out.
After earning regular minutes with the Panthers during the 2021-2022 season, Luostarinen finished the season with nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 78 games in just 13 minutes of ice time per game.
With the loss of Jonathan Huberdeau and Mason Marchment, it was expected that Luostarinen would have a bigger role moving forward and he was ultimately offered a team-friendly deal to see if he could break out this season.
That’s exactly what he’s done, sporting 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points in 74 games; all career-highs.
Eeli Tolvanen – Three Years, $1.45M AAV
Eeli Tolvanen did manage to register 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 75 games for the Nashville Predators last season before signing his three-year extension, but points weren’t the only factor here.
The former 1st-round pick had over 120 games under his belt and had put up 11 goals in both of his first seasons in Nashville.
Although the outcome wasn’t necessarily where the Predators would have hoped it could be, they paid a little more on a longer deal due to Tolvanen’s draft pedigree and clear goal-scoring ability.
Even if they eventually lost Tolvanen to waivers, he’s absolutely flourished with the Seattle Kraken, posting 17 goals and 12 assists for 29 points in 52 games this season.
Yakov Trenin – Two Years, $1.7M AAV
Another young Nashville Predator that was signed to a bridge deal was Yakov Trenin.
The Russian winger had finally broken into the league during the 2021-2022 season, potting 17 goals and seven assists for 24 points in 80 games for the Predators.
Given his notable goal-scoring ability, size and physical play, the Predators took the gamble of offering Yakov a nice raise in the form of a two-year deal.
He hasn’t been able to follow up on last season’s performances during the 2022-2023 campaign, making the two-year term a wise concession for the Predators, rather than a three-year agreement.
Montreal Canadiens & Harvey Pinard
With Harvey-Pinard, it’s a little bit of a more unique situation, as he’s producing better than those mentioned above, but in unsustainable ways.
The youngster is currently logging over 17 minutes a game and getting regular shifts on the top power play, while riding a 24% shooting percentage.
All of those will likely drop in a big way once the team is healthy; meaning the offensive opportunities may drop as well.
The Habs need to be mindful of this, as Harvey-Pinard is an extremely useful role player that can play anywhere in the lineup; but likely won’t be getting top-six usage on a regular basis next season.
Given his likely bottom-six role with the team next season, and his lack of NHL experience prior to this season, there is an element of risk that the Canadiens would need to mitigate.
Hence why, despite the offensive prowess, it wouldn’t be surprising to find Harvey-Pinard in the same range as the players listed above; signing a two-year deal between $1.4M to $1.7M this summer.
Verdict: Two years – $1.5M