Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes was coy regarding the contract negotiations with newly acquired restricted free agent Alex Newhook.
But he did provide a little clarity as to the process.
Hughes noted that most agents are pretty busy these days, not only due to free agency but also because the NHL’s Entry Draft recently took place, which means several top prospects will receive entry-level contracts in the near future.
Seeing as Hughes was a player agent before he became the general manager of the Canadiens, we can safely say that he has a pretty good idea of what he’s talking about.
“Most agents are pretty busy, and as a team, we’ll prioritize some things. But from an agency perspective, if not an unrestricted free agent, they’ll generally table (negotiations) or a bit.”
Newhook, 22, is due for a significant raise, and given the Canadiens traded a first and second-round pick in exchange for his rights, we can safely assume they’re confident when it comes to his overall value.
An annual average value similar to what the Canadiens offered Kirby Dach last season, $3.362 million per year, is a decent starting point. Dach was younger and had a little more pedigree than Newhook, therefore it would not be surprising that his AAV is slightly lower.
The real sticking point is the term of the contract.
Hughes previously mentioned that Newhook will only become an unrestricted free agent in five years, which gives us another clue as to the team’s desired outcome.
“We made a trade where we gave up two good picks,” said Hughes at the time of the trade. “But we’re bringing in a young player who can grow with us and isn’t an unrestricted free agent for another five years.”
Hughes mentioned the Montreal Canadiens are comfortable with how much they’re willing to pay Newhook, but still haven’t agreed on how many years the contract will last.
“We’re comfortable about where we think the market would be, it’s more of a question of the term,” he said on Saturday.
Sources have told Montreal Hockey Now that we should expect the contract to be ironed out in the next few days, and that a four-year term is currently being negotiated.