There’s one pressing issue when it comes to the Montreal Canadiens and their contract negotiations: the Alex Newhook extension.
Newhook, 22, is fresh off his entry-level contract, which means he’s due for a significant raise, relatively speaking. General manager Kent Hughes has already stated the team is confident in how much they’ll pay the young forward, but they’re still discussing the term.
To get a better idea of how much Newhook will end up costing the Canadiens, we can evaluate other contracts signed by players with similar production who were also in the final year of their ELC.
Very few players sign four-year deals following the conclusion of their entry-level contracts. For the most part, both parties tend to agree on a short-term deal, as you’ll see a little later in this analysis.
But there is one player, in particular, that serves as a great example, and he happens to already be a member of the Montreal Canadiens: Kirby Dach.
Dach was 21 years old when he was acquired by the Canadiens, and he had a little more pedigree given that he was the third overall pick at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, but his production was similar to Newhook’s.
Prior to his trade to the Canadiens, Dach had scored 59 points in 156 career games, good for 0.38 points per game. Newhook, on the other hand, earned 66 points in 159 career games, resulting in 0.42 points per game.
That’s not to say they’re identical players. Dach is a bigger player with a different tool kit, one that will eventually allow him to develop into a long-term centre. Newhook is a hard-working player, but there are healthy odds that he ends up playing on the wing in an attempt to remove some of the responsibilities tied into playing down the middle in the NHL.
With that in mind, we can safely say that Dach’s contract extension, a four-year deal with a $3.362 annual average value, serves as a good comparable for Newhook.
By using Dach’s contract, we can get a better idea of the type of contracts most players with similar production sign the year that their entry-level contracts expire.
The point isn’t to find a player with the exact same production or age. Rather, we want to establish the percentage of the salary cap the deals the young players signed for once they were due for an extension.
The first thing that stands out, is that the vast majority of the post-ELC contracts were shorter than Dach’s four-year deal. Other than Hintz, every other contract that pops up as a comparable was two years or fewer, which means if the Canadiens are intent on signing Newhook for a longer deal, they may have to increase their offer so that it’s similar to the percentage Dach’s contract counted upon the salary cap (4.08 percent).
Regardless of how long the deal ends up being, as it stands Newhook’s contract is expected to account for somewhere between 3 and 4.11 percent of the salary cap next season. He simply did not produce enough to warrant a comparison to Nazem Kadri’s extension.
In other words, given the salary cap will be $83.5 million in 2023-24, the deal should range between $2.5 million to $3.43 million per season.
It’s unlikely the Montreal Canadiens want Newhook’s deal to overshadow Dach’s, and you’d be hard-pressed to argue he deserves as much as Hintz did when he signed his extension with the Dallas Stars.
A good recent comparable is the deal Cody Glass signed with the Nashville Predators. Glass scored 0.40 points per game before the new contract, which is very similar to the 0.42 points per game produced by Newhook in his first three seasons in the league.
Glass is older, which works in Newhook’s favour, meaning he’ll probably account for a little more of the yearly cap space.
With that in mind, we can expect Newhook’s contract extension with the Canadiens to be a touch over $3.1 million per season, accounting for 3.7 percent of the salary cap next year.
All Montreal Canadiens and NHL salary cap information via CapFriendly.