Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens has an eight-year contract worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $84,000,000, and has been demonized as the worst contract in the NHL. But is it … really?
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
It is no secret that Price is the best player on the Montréal Canadiens. Which has been especially apparent this season. While Montreal has managed to drum up a decent record thus far in the season [beyond what anyone expected at the start of the season], the team owes significant debts to their all-star net-minder.
But, this isn’t anything new.
Price has off games. Sure. Every goaltender does. But Price consistently gives his team a chance to win. It is usually the rest of the roster that blows their chances. What is Price to do when his own teammate pushes the opponent into him [which happened against Boston]? Not only that, but it is typically Price that gets wrung out by the media for Montreal’s sub-par play. You will never see others on the team getting targeted [save for a few comments on Twitter]. And this is a pattern that has plagued Price’s professional career.
The $84,000,000 he is getting paid represents more than his play on the ice. But I will get to that in a moment.
While it is no secret that Price is Montreal’s best player, it is also obvious that Price played terribly last season. With a record of 16-26 in 2017-2018—his worst season—it is valid to question Price’s salary position.
Which raises the most convincing argument against Price getting the contract he did. His injuries. It is a fact: Price is injury-prone. And this is a difficult point to argue. It will only become more of a risk as he ages too. [This same issue can be raised against Montreal’s best defenseman, Shea Weber, which perhaps will be discussed at another time.] And it is not like these injuries are minor. These injuries have the potential to end a season [perhaps a career].
However, on the flip side, Carey Price has played well this season. Especially with the return of Shea Weber. It proves that Price having a solid defenseman in front of him directly impacts his own game. Price’s save percentage has increased significantly since Weber’s return [Price’s save percentage has gone from .895 without Weber to .916 with Weber this season.]. This is, perhaps, why I would say the contract is not a bad deal. You know that Price can play at an incredibly high level, given that his teammates are prepared to offer the same effort. [Price has the ability to carry Montreal, nearly single-handedly, into the post-season if he is on his game.] The objective for Marc Bergevin and the rest of the Montreal staff is to snag more players that can raise Price’s game [preferably defensemen]. And what’s more, Montreal has a decent amount of cap space to do it.
Additionally, with the cap ceiling being raised next season, it is bound to help Montreal despite Price’s stout contract.
A Brief Comparison
The difference with goaltender contracts and players. Another reason I don’t think Price’s contract is going to hurt Montreal as bad as others may think is that he’s more apt to stay at a team than a player.
What I mean is this:
Teams that have good [or even great] players but don’t perform during the season will use their good players as trade-bait. That is somewhat what happened with Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. Players are more likely to be dealt at the trade deadline [or any time, in fact] than goaltenders. Therefore, I think it’s more favorable to lock down a goaltender with a larger contract, simply because they’re less likely to be dealt when the team, as a whole, goes south.
This is made evident with Price.
As I mentioned earlier, Price’s contract pays for the beating he receives weekly with respect to the media in addition to all-star-level play.
While the contract is stout, it could certainly be worse. One can only hope that Price produces for the remainder of the season [and beyond].
Tweet CJ at @BoxofBeetles
Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals