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Can Elias Pettersson raise his game, claim a $2 million bonus next season?

November 14, 2020, 3:54 PM ET [195 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Elias Pettersson pulled out one of his most classic photos to thank fans for wishing him a happy birthday earlier this week.

Where were you when you were 22? I was in the first year of my career in the radio biz, working as a copywriter for a station in Kamloops.

Because I grew up in the city and this was well before the Vancouver Giants came into existence, this was also where junior hockey first nudged its way onto my radar. I started learning names and stats through our sports reporter's regular updates on the Blazers, but didn't fully grasp that I could have been at the rink watching future stars on my nights off — and probably could have gotten in for free through my radio connections.

My first radio job was a brief three-month sojourn in Travis Green's hometown of Castlegar. With a population of about 6,000, that town was so small that if there was any event at all happening, everyone would go. I'm pretty sure that's when I saw my first-ever Hockey Legends game. I'm fuzzy about who was there but I think there were some pretty big names — like Eddie Shack and possibly even Maurice Richard, maybe as a ref?

I'd love to see the rundowns of some of the rosters that went out on those tours. I remember the event being a lot of fun. Let me know if you know of a website or archive somewhere that would have that information.

I've also been struggling to try to figure out when I saw my first live NHL game. I watched so many games on TV, from such a young age, that it felt like hockey was always there. I feel like my first actual live game might have been a Canucks/Oilers contest in the Coliseum — a humbling loss, even after Gretzky was traded.

I think it was at Christmastime, which makes me think it might have been the 5-2 loss to Edmonton on December 28, 1990 — a two-point night for Greg Adams and Jay Mazur, for Vancouver, with Troy Gamble taking the loss, while Esa Tikkanen had two goals for Edmonton and Martin Gelinas, Glenn Anderson and Steve Smith chipped in singles. Of course, that Oilers squad would go on to win Cup No. 5 later that spring.

What do you remember about your first live NHL game?

Drawing this back to Pettersson, he had a hilarious summary of the first two shifts of his first NHL game.

We all remember the goal, on his first NHL shot - and the meme that was born.

He scored at 13:48 of the first period, but on that Spittin' Chiclets interview a couple of weeks back, he described what happened before that.

Looking back at the Time On Ice and Play-by-play chart from that game, he had it exactly right.

His first shift was eight seconds long, ending when Erik Gudbranson blew up Flames rookie forward Dillon Dube — and drew an interference penalty.

After the penalty was killed, Petey got back on the ice. This time, he had 11 seconds. He won his offensive-zone draw and got off a shot, which was blocked by Travis Hamonic, before Hamonic threw down and fought Gudbranson for his bad hit on Dube.

"Welcome to the NHL," Pettersson shrugged on the podcast.

In that context, if he had been wondering a bit what he'd gotten himself into, that nod makes even more sense. By shift No. 5, he'd figured it out.

After pondering what Pettersson's next contract will look like in the last blog, I learned that he has a chance to score some big bucks next season, too.

Patrick Johnston did a good summary back in July of the bonuses that Pettersson and Quinn Hughes collected.

Both maxed out their Schedule A bonuses, at $850,000. Those do count against the salary cap, and because the Canucks were maxed out at the end of last season, that $1.7 million carries forward. Because of the flat cap, the NHL agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding that bonus overages can be split over the next two seasons if necessary. So the Canucks could choose to only absorb $850,000 in 2020-21 and the other $850,000 in 2021-22.

Then there are the Schedule B bonuses, which are paid out by the league and do not count against the cap.

Per Patrick Johnston: "They are activated if the player finishes top 10 in the league in goals, assists, points or points per game, finishes top five in voting for one of the league’s major awards or is named as a first- or second-team all-star at the end of the season."

Last season, Hughes earned three Schedule B bonuses, totalling $260,000. "$110,000 for finishing fifth in the league for points by defencemen, $130,000 for finishing third for assists by defencemen and $20,000 for finishing ninth for defencemen points per game."

Now, here's the interesting part — Pettersson has a clause in his contract that only a few players get, where he's eligible for a one-time payment of $2 million from the Canucks, on top of the league payouts, if he hits one of these particular Schedule B bonuses:

From Chris Johnston at Sportsnet, the $2 million triggers are: "claiming a major award (excluding the Calder Trophy) or finishing among the NHL’s top 10 in goals, assists, points or points per game."

As far as I can tell, that extra $2 million *would* count against the cap next season. It's the same situation the Leafs were in when Auston Matthews' 40 goals put him second in the league in scoring in his rookie season.

Last season, Petey's 66 points put him in a tie for 20th overall when the season was paused. He was tied for 24th in goals, 31st in points per game, and 34th in assists.

He'd need to make another jump to get into the Top 10, but it's not impossible. And that bonus money is a pretty delicious incentive.

What do you think? Can he do it?
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