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Elias Pettersson Contract Clarifies Canucks Future

NHL Rumours

Wake up, kids! A shiny, new Elias Pettersson contract just dropped! And because it’s the Vancouver Canucks, it happened at 7 AM on a Saturday instead of some normal time! Professional trolling aside, this is excellent news for the club and their fans as well as for Pettersson himself. Let’s take a look.

Elias Pettersson Contract Benefits Everyone

Earlier this week, Frank Seravalli mentioned that the Canucks were talking to Pettersson’s agent about a new deal. That in itself was a bombshell because all of the overtures to either group got the same response: “Wait until the offseason.” Pettersson made it very clear he wasn’t going to discuss a new contract this year, and said so right from training camp.

This was around the same time that President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford let it be known that there was a deal on the table. The Canucks have always maintained that they want to keep Pettersson long-term, but shorter deals were acceptable. Then Elliott Friedman followed that yesterday with the revelation that the Carolina Hurricanes had made an offer to acquire him. Pettersson gave his agents permission to talk to the Canucks more formally, and the deal is now done.

What Happened – Probably

General Manager Patrik Allvin has inherited some of Rutherford’s legendary impatience to make deals. There is little doubt that the fact there was an offer made was presented to Pettersson’s side as soon as it happened. While there is still a week to go before the 2024 NHL trade deadline, the team wanted certainty. If they didn’t know how much money they had going into 2024-25, trades for players with term would be riskier.

The new Elias Pettersson contract means the team can go into negotiations this Summer with their biggest expense known. To be clear, odds were always remote that he’d be traded as a deadline move. Any team looking to take on the young star would need to configure their entire player budget around him. But that still wasn’t a risk Pettersson was willing to take.

That being said, given the deals Allvin has already made for Vancouver, maybe it wasn’t such a small chance. Blockbusters aren’t something this management group fears making. And going by the in-house release, Pettersson’s pretty happy with the deal and with how the team looks.

The Price Is Really, Really Good

The eight-year deal is the maximum allowable, of course. That will carry Pettersson through his 32nd birthday, so the risk of negative regression is minimized. If 100 points becomes his standard – and there’s every reason to think it will – then he’ll provide that all the way through. Or at least close enough to it that a slight drop late is easily forgiven.

The Canucks show that they are dedicated to the player with this contract in multiple ways. Not only is it the longest term they could give, but it will be difficult to buy out or move. It’s a bonus-heavy deal, with just over half the total value coming in lump sums. His last five seasons have $5 million payments, and his first two have $12 million and $10 million respectively. Furthermore, after the first season, there is a full no-move clause attached. It doesn’t exist in that first year because Pettersson doesn’t qualify under the CBA, but he’s not moving.

Pettersson’s not getting everything he wants in the deal, though. That average of $11.6 million per season would have been much higher if he had waited. Players of his quality just aren’t available in free agency, especially at centre. He could have gone with a shorter deal, letting him become an unrestricted free agent far sooner. If you think this deal was a lot, what would it look like when the salary cap is $6 million (or more) higher?

Focus, Everyone. Focus.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to getting a new Elias Pettersson contract done now is to recentre on the playoffs. The team has stumbled lately, and Pettersson himself hasn’t produced like fans are used to. He has just two assists in his last five games and the Canucks mirrored that with a 1-3-1 record. There is still a quarter of the season left to right the ship, but there’s also ONLY a quarter of the season left to right the ship.

Much closer, of course, is the trade deadline. As mentioned, Allvin hasn’t been the type to sit and wait for deals to come to him. With Pettersson sewn up, he can expand his trade possibilities to include players with contracts beyond this season. And given the playoff window has turned into a possible Stanley Cup window, they want to improve the team now.

The Canucks cornerstone pieces are now all sealed for the next three seasons. Thatcher Demko‘s contract expires after 2025-26, Quinn Hughes‘ absolute bargain a year later. J.T. Miller is signed on until the end of 2029-30. And now Pettersson will be in a Canucks uniform until 2031-32.

Infinity…And Beyond!

Other contracts are coming due much sooner than those, of course. The biggest is for Filip Hronek, who has been an excellent double for Hughes as arguably the best defensive pair in the league. The restricted free agent is in the last year of an extremely team-friendly $4.4 million deal himself. In the free agent market, a top-pair, right-shot defenceman can easily get closer to $8 million than $5 million. The Canucks only have three NHL defencemen currently signed past July 1st. Those are Hughes, pleasant surprise Noah Juulsen, and the oft-injured Carson Soucy. While that isn’t a bad base to work from, there are notable gaps on the blue line.

Their Biggest UFA Will Be Lindholm

Among the forwards, while recent arrival Elias Lindholm is the most talented unrestricted free agent, Dakota Joshua might be the harder one to replace. Joshua has shown brilliantly this season, answering the vexing problem of finding someone who can play with Conor Garland. In his UFA year, Joshua might have played himself out of town. And, of course, keeping Lindholm is a decision for the team to make as well. The team needs to decide what he actually is before making him an offer. He shouldn’t be paid like the 40-goal scorer he was two seasons ago, but he’s also not the 40-point centre he has shown thus far in Vancouver.

A big reason why they are among the top five teams in the league right now is because of how well their free agents have performed. Teddy Blueger, Sam Lafferty, and Ian Cole have all performed beyond their cost. Mark Friedman has been a fine stop-gap in case of injury. The team simply can’t afford them all. For today, though, those concerns can wait.

*For all the player contract information, please refer to CapFriendly

Main photo: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports


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