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Canadiens Analysis

Canadiens General Manager Kent Hughes Keeps Finding Value



Montreal Canadiens Kent Hughes

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes completed his summer business in a very efficient manner by signing restricted free agent Jesse Ylonen to a one-year contract extension on Monday morning.

The contract was far from an overpay, as Ylonen will only receive the league minimum next season, which is set at $775,000.

You could even argue it was essentially the best value possible when you consider that Ylonen scored six goals and 10 assists in 36 games last year. Pro-rated to an 82-game season, Ylonen had a 13-goal and 23-assist scoring pace.

Compared to NHL players in the same situation, Ylonen signed for significantly less than average, which has become a common occurrence when discussing Hughes’ contract negotiations.

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It’s not a major difference in a vacuum, mind you, but these things add up quickly.

Ylonen will count for less than one percent of the salary cap next year, whereas the comparable deals were well above one percent,

Montreal Canadiens Ylonen comparables

Pinching Pennies

The Canadiens may have only saved a few hundred thousand dollars by convincing Ylonen to sign for the league minimum, but when we keep in mind the other contracts offered by Hughes, it’s starting to become apparent that his experience as a player agent has led to a significant boon for the franchise.

Other than the Cole Caufield extension, which also offered great value to the team, Hughes has avoided signing any of his players for more than four years. And when he did offer a four-year contract, he made sure the two players in question were young enough that their overall potential could lead to a bargain down the road.

It’s already the case for Kirby Dach, and it very well may occur with the Alex Newhook contract.

MUST READ: Kirby Dach Stands Out As Top NHL Defensive Centre

Beyond the big announcements, Hughes has kept his pencil quite sharp while negotiating. Sean Monahan’s one-year, $1.985 million deal is sufficient evidence when combined with the Caufield, Dach, and Newhook contracts. On top of it, Hughes also convinced both Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jordan Harris to take well below their market value.

The biggest albatross contracts offered by Hughes were those signed by Rem Pitlick and Chris Wideman, both of which can be buried in the AHL without any impact on the Canadiens’ salary cap situation.

Brass Tacks

Considering the Canadiens have a long history of overpaying players to compensate for the lack of victories and the high taxes in Canada, it’s only fair to suggest that Hughes has found the secret recipe to convincing players they want to play for the franchise and that they should do it below market value.

It’s a crucial aspect when discussing roster construction in the modern sports landscape. For the most part, teams are handcuffed by their financial obligations, which means salary cap space has quickly become one of the most valuable assets in the NHL. Overpaying middle-six and bottom-line players is one of the greatest sins in a salary cap world, and it’s something that Hughes has wisely avoided.

There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to contracts signed by Kent Hughes, you’d be hard-pressed to suggest he has not found great value in the vast majority of the deals he has signed since becoming the general manager of the Canadiens.