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Instant Analysis: Canadiens Bank On Growth In Slafkovsky Deal

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Montreal Canadiens Slafkovsky

The Montreal Canadiens have announced they have signed forward Juraj Slafkovsky to an eight-year contract extension. The deal will carry an annual average value (AAV) of $7.6 million per season, and will last until 2032-33.

As we suggested prior to the opening of free agency, the priority for the Canadiens on July 1 wouldn’t necessarily be adding new players to the mix, but rather signing cornerstone pieces of their rebuild, such as Slafkovsky and Kaiden Guhle.

The first reaction from many fans, particularly those outside of Montreal that haven’t watched him grow by leaps and bounds in 2023-24, will be that the Habs have overpaid for a player who has yet to truly establish his identity in the NHL. And while it’s true he won’t necessarily provide excellent value in the first year or so of his deal, his recent trajectory suggests Slafkovksy is just a few steps away from becoming a mainstay as a top-talent in the league.

MUST READ: Canadiens Analysis – How Juraj Slafkovsky Improved His Overall Play In 2023-24

The deal comes with a slightly lower AAV than the contract that was offered to Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki, maintaining some semblance of structure when it comes to the pecking order in the lineup.

It also establishes Slafkovsky as a member of the core three, alongside Suzuki and Cole Caufield, who also signed a rich extension last summer. Suzuki will be paid $7.87 million per season until 2030, Caufield will receive $7.85 million per season until 2021, and Slafkovsky will earn $7.6 million until 2033.

Montreal Canadiens Brass Tacks

There’s no doubt this is a significant decision by the team, one that carries the potential to backfire should Slafkovsky fail to ultimately reach his potential. But we have to keep in mind that at 20 years old, Slafkovsky is still one of the youngest players in the league. His trajectory in the last half of the season wasn’t just good, it was bordering on great.

He also provided a stabilizing factor on the top line, as few players managed to create any chemistry while playing alongside Suzuki and Caufield, as it required a certain style of play, not to mention a high dose of talent. His ability to use his frame to his advantage also improved significantly, providing yet another important element to the top line.

Simply put, if your only information regarding Slafkovsky’s time in the NHL involves a cursory glance at Hockeydb, this extension may seem outrageous, but those who followed along every night will have a better understanding of the type of potential Hughes and the Canadiens are banking on now that first-overall pick has signed his contract extension.

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KSC

Fantastic getting him locked up. Great move!

morrisk

Let me be the first to say this is surprising. I see why the Habs did it, but its risky.

They are trying to tie him up for 8 more seasons on a “bargain” deal, assuming he hits it big.

Assuming…

All this based on half a season of playing really well.

Half…

So, what if they waited until the end of the season and Slaf hit say 82 pts in 82 games (1 pt per game for a full season). How much would he be worth then…perhaps $9M something per season? So let’s say that’s $2M more than the current $7.6M per. For “only” $2M more per year, isn’t it worth not taking the risk it doesn’t pan out?

I’d much rather prefer $9.6M x 8, after a full pt per game season, than $7.6M x 8, after a half a season of a pt per game. I would have waited until at least the mid point of this next season. Its much less risky that way.

Habs MGMT better hope this pans out, because if it doesn’t…whoa baby!

Last edited 20 days ago by morrisk
Ghg55

I couldn’t disagree more… you’re willing to lose $2m dollars in cap space… so why would you be willing to lose it in that way? If slaf busts, he can be bought out and given his age, it’s only a 1/3 cap hit. If we’re taking the risk of losing “only” a couple million, I’d much rather it be betting on his upside than his potential failure. I, and clearly the habs, think the upside is a much better bet. Even if he doesn’t improve at all, and even if the team doesn’t improve at all, and all he does is maintain the near ppg production he had in the second half of the season, when the cap reaches $100m in a couple years, this is a good deall. Buuuuut I’m gonna assume he’ll get a bit better, as will the team. If he becomes a perennial 30-40g scorer and 80-90pt power forward, with a $100M cap, this will be one of the GREATEST contract in the league.

You’d bet that extra $2M saying “he could fail, we should wait”.
But we SHOULD say “he’s probably going to succeed, and if not, it’s only $2M”

Besides, if there’s one thing EVERY cup winner has taught is in recent years, it’s the value of cap space… if slaf busts, it’ll be much trickier to really contend. So it just makes more sense to maximize the contention path, assume he doesn’t bust, make this deal and hopefully have that cap space when we get to contention

morrisk

You’d bet that extra $2M saying “he could fail, we should wait”.
But we SHOULD say “he’s probably going to succeed, and if not, it’s only $2M”

Yes to both.

If the cap is to increase the way you say it is, there should be no problem…should there?

Tony

Yep. Exactly. Well put.

Dana

Absolutely agree! Such limited risk , such great reward. That contract will age exceptionally well as I suspect he will earn the AAV in year 1. Heck he was almost a ppg after the all star break and that’s the value in points so the extra hits and blocked shots over average are bonuses! Owen Power at 8.35 or this deal? Or wait a few years and pay 12 million per. I love everything about this deal as he’s filthy rich and we will have money to pay other high end players beyond the competitive balance of other teams payrolls for comp players.

Paul Newman

I totally agree with what you said! At the worst, he will just be worth his contract. If we waited another half season he may command more than another 2mill cap hit a year. Every contract out there is a gamble, barr none.

Dana

Rasmus Dahlin is at 11million so in another year or two, Slafkovsky will be 12 or more not 9.6 as you suggest especially as the cap rises. Lafreniere is betting on himself, Slafkovsky is betting on Hughes and his teammates and himself. I know Alexis wouldn’t be offered quite this deal today so it’s different, but that is exactly what Juraj did. He’s walking the walk as he mostly talks team first

morrisk

Well, is it a year, or two? Big difference.

And in no universe does Slaf get a $12M x 8 year deal if he has a pt per game season next season. He would have to be in the running for the Hart next season to get THAT contract.

So yes, if the Habs waited until next year to sign him, it would “likely” be for no more than about $2M more than this contract.

I’d rather be 99% certain at $9.6M per than be, say, 66.7% certain at $7.6 M per…especially because the cap is rising to make up that difference.

Dana

He scored at 9 ppg after the all star game. Improves a little more and that is a ppg this season. Is that unreasonable? He looks great out there now, his production is not a mirage. So if he scores a ppg or above 75 next year, as that would be a 50% production increase over this past season, so he’s in line for 10m. If he scores over 80 it’s 11m if it’s 90, it’s upwards of 12 million. In case you weren’t aware, they use % of salary cap in negotiating and as the cap goes up…so does the AAV. That’s the $ first overalls performing well get. That’s why I put in Dahlin and Power. both were first overalls. Dahlin at 11, so in that universe, Slafkovsky gets 12 million as it would be similar % of the cap that first over all picks get. Signing now mitigates the risk he performs well( which we all hope and expect) and we have to pay big money. Why is that hard to understand? You watched him play down the stretch, he was visibly excellent and he’s got a lot of the growth curve ahead of him. Do you agree he has a lot of untapped potential like all other high end 20 year olds do? My suggested contract values are based on two major factors -#1 picks second contracts based on high trajectory and %of cap. Study those two items and you will see why my suggestions are realistic and reasonable.
I hope that is a satisfactory explanation

GP

Sorry your looking at it wrong

A rising cap is of limited benefit if you give it all back to the players with no flexibility for the team

That 2 mil more is the savings for the regime to do other things

Colorado won a cup when Nate was making 6.7 mil , not the 12.6

That savings allowed them to get Manson and resign Toews , paying market value they would have to depart players like they are forced to do now

Better to have our big 3 locked in under 24 mil for many years to come as the cap goes up

Pauly

Thank God you are not running the Habs.

Last edited 20 days ago by Pauly
Mario

If he progresses as expected, and with the rising cap, it’s not an extra 2 million. It’s an extra 3.5-4.

$7.6 million will seem cheap as borscht if he is a point a game plus guy with his size and overall game.

mikeysl

Man o Man.. the negativity.

If he rounds out at 25G 25A – 50 points it will STILL be a good deal, maybe not great, but still good.

I expect a slump in the first half of the year … then everyone will be running around say … the sky is fall.. or I told you so…why put so much energy into being “right” for negative value instead of positive value?

We have out top line for the next 6 yrs (more?) at less than 25 mil.

Leafs have two players making that…. but who cares.

This is going well… try and enjoy this …or you may find yourself cheering for them to fail….just so you can say “I told u so”…

morrisk

Ah, no.

If he gets 50 pts next season in a full season, which is the exact same as last season, then that’s bad. THAT is NOT worth $7.6 M per.

We could easily get a 2nd line winger to generate 50 pts in a season for half that contract and term. AKA Newhook.

I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve this type of contract. Just not yet.

I’m not saying he’s only as good as RHP. But look what happened with RHP this season compared to last.

Should have waited a bit longer to sign him to this type of contract…just to be nearly 100% certain.

mikey_sl

u lost me when you start comparing RHP to Slaf. Im out.

GP

There is near zero risk , there is no way SLAF plateaus at 50 points .

RHP is a beer league player nothing more

GP

This deal is a home run for Hugo .

You lock up your potential star core and never look back .

What team has been burnt doing this out of ELC , nobody.

Debrusk barely a 50 point player got 5.5 and we are are doubting this contract , for a player with a huge upside

You think the OILERS aren’t crying now not locking up Bouchard years ago. What could of been 6 mil is going to be 9

Habs now have their top 3 locked up under 24 mil when that cap will 100+ in a few years , Hugo gets an A

If it doesn’t work all are easily moveable.

GP

This is a great deal for the Habs and Slaf and a potential home run for the regime

Slaf is going to be a beast and just scratching his potential

This is what teams should do and lock up your young core at cost certainty

Slaf gets financial security for life and if he is still good there more money at 29

Teams dont get burnt doing this … plus you dont have a no trade clause for many years that kill you

The contract is easily moveable and the 1/3 buyout before 26 helps even more

Slaf like Caufield would be fools to turn this down , what are you fighting maybe an extra mil a year if all goes right on a bridge deal then an extension

Aging vets who barely score 50 points are netting 5-6 , and we dont want to lock up a stud at 20

Ask Edmonton if locking up Bouchard at 6x 6 mil years ago would of made ssense ???

Tyrone

Absolutely love this move. It’s exactly what I had hoped for last summer when discussing it. Lock him up for 8 years at just under Suzuki money and the deal will look like absolute larceny in a couple of years as the cap continues to skyrocket.

GP

Big 3 locked up under 24 mil when the cap will be 100+

AWESOME

Geof T Isherwood

Don’t forget Slaf’s new deal starts AFTER the coming season. The Habs still have him one more season on his Entry Level Contract. He’s got this year to ripen some more. I suspect by the time his new deal kicks in he’s going to be well worth it. Slaf’s overall play improved and he wasn’t being sheltered. He learned he could throw his weight around and the opposition could do little about it. This isn’t a case of RHP surprising teams then being shut down.

Also, if Demidov joins the team in 25-26, look out. The Suzuki line with Demidov and Hutson, Suzy playing the point, you won’t be worried abut the contract, Slaf will slurp up his share of that home-made Quebec maple syrup!!