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Happy birthday to Elias Pettersson, who's due for a new contract very soon

November 12, 2020, 1:45 PM ET [443 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Let's start today by wishing Elias Pettersson a happy 22nd birthday!

At some point, he's going to get the gift of a juicy new contract, effective for the 2021-22 season. Consider this:

Petey also leads his 2017 draft class in goals, with 55. His 132 points are three behind leader Nico Hischier, who came straight into the NHL as an 18-year-old and has already played 209 career games, compared to just 139 for Pettersson.

There's a big drop on that list down to third place in the points race β€” currently held by Robert Thomas, with 75 points. But over the next few years, expect to hear the conversation mostly revolve around whether Miro Heiskanen or Cale Makar can challenge Petey as the best player from that draft class.

Now in the last year of his entry-level deal, Pettersson is eligible for a contract extension at any time. And typically, we see top-end talent like this extended relatively early.

McDavid signed his big second contract, with the cap hit of $12.5 million, on July 5, 2017 β€” five days after the eligibility window opened at the end of his second season. Jack Eichel, drafted second that same year, signed his $10-million-a-year deal in early October.

Heck, even Nico Hischier signed his second contract, with a cap hit of $7.25 million, on October 18, 2019.

Auston Matthews had to wait a little longer. Drafted in 2016, he signed his second contract, with a cap hit of $11.6 million, in February of 2019 β€” midway through this third season. And, of course, Mitch Marner notoriously had to wait till his third offseason before signing.

Mat Barzal's situation bears watching because he's also right up there as one of the top-scoring young players of recent years, and a Calder winner like Pettersson and Matthews. He's probably deserving of a deal worth close to eight figures, but The Islanders are currently showing less than $4 million in cap space after inking RFA defenseman Ryan Pulock to a two-year deal last week, with a cap hit of $5 million.

A couple of weeks ago, before Pulock was signed, I wrote about how three of the teams with the toughest cap situations are three of the four conference finalists from this summer's playoffs, with the Islanders among them.

It makes sense. To have success, teams need good, emerging young players to go along with established stars who are making top dollar. That's why the Lightning still haven't gotten anything done with their three impressive RFAs β€” Sergachev, Cirelli and Cernak.

After losing John Tavares in 2018, the Islanders have re-signed the wave of top players that came up just behind him β€” drafted players like current captain Anders Lee, Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson as well as trade acquisitions Jordan Eberle and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Cap hits have been reasonable β€” Lee leads the list, at $7 million a year. But now, something's gotta give.

The closest thing the Canucks have to deals like that are their two longest contracts β€” four more years of 30-year-old Tyler Myers at $6 million a year, and five more seasons with 29-year-old Nate Schmidt at $5.95 million. Up front, just three forwards are inked for three more seasons β€” Bo Horvat (25), J.T. Miller (27) and Micheal Ferland (28).

It's interesting to think that two of those five deals β€” Miller and Schmidt β€” were cap dumps from successful teams that have a propensity for handing out long-term contracts. Vegas, of course, is the third team that gets highlighted in my article above.

Jim Benning hasn't handed out a six-year contract since Loui Eriksson. I guess that's a lesson that sticks. Like many teams, the Canucks are squeezed pretty tightly right now, but they should have relatively decent flexibility going forward.

One other note on Petey's eventual extension: per the CBA, he can't get trade protection until he reaches his free-agency years β€” age 27 or seven accrued NHL seasons. Just as almost-24-year-old Connor McDavid's no-move clause doesn't take effect until the beginning of the 2022-23 season, Petey can't get trade protection until two years after that, in 2024-25.

With the world as it is right now, it makes sense for Canucks management to wait as long as possible before signing Pettersson's extension. The better idea they have of what their revenue streams will look like for this season, the easier it should be to proceed.

The NBA has signed off on its plan to start at 72-game season on Dec. 22 β€” playing primarily in home rinks, with fans as local health authorities allow. The pressure is now on the NHL to get its own ducks in a row ASAP.

We heard talk on Tuesday that the league was hoping to provide a significant update to its Board of Governors this week. In addition to figuring out a schedule, divisional structure and all that good stuff, the question of whether or not players will agree to pro rate their salaries also remains unresolved.

With significant holdings in sectors like real estate, which have held up nicely, I would think the Aquilinis are coming through the pandemic in pretty decent shape β€” although revenues from their restaurants would have taken a hit, as well as the income that would normally be generated by other events that get booked into Rogers Arena, on top of the hockey team.

Word is, the desire to hang onto as much cash as possible right now is also why Travis Green has not yet inked his new contract extension. His deal expires at the end of this season, as do those of his assistants including goaltending coach Ian Clark.

Green sometimes keeps his cards close to his chest, but in this wide-ranging new Q&A with Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet, he's pretty unequivocal about wanting to stay in Vancouver, and expecting that a new deal will get done in due time.

"I’ve had some dialogue with Jim and kicked some things around," Green said. "For me, the biggest thing is that we’re always on the same page, and we have been from Day 1. The fact Jim wants to extend me fits with what I want to do. When I first came to Vancouver, we talked about building this team up and taking the proper steps to do it. Obviously, you have to be aligned with your general manager and your ownership, and we have been the whole way. I still want to coach this team and win in Vancouver, not just now and not just next year but for the long term. We’ll see how this plays out during the pandemic and revisit it.

"When you ask me if I want to stay in Vancouver, of course I do. It’s not even a question in my mind. I can’t imagine winning a Stanley Cup in any city but Vancouver."

At this point, my guess is that his contract will be announced around the beginning of training camp β€” whenever that turns out to be.
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