Alexander Radulov returned to the National Hockey League as part of the Montreal Canadiens this season, signing a one-year deal worth $5.75 million dollars.
When the rumours of his desire to return to North America emerged in April, the leading team to acquire his services was the Detroit Red Wings. Other teams were apparently also in play, including the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and Washington Capitals. There is no real clear indication of how serious the discussions were with each of those teams, but what we do know is that everyone was blindsided when, on July 1, Montreal emerged as favourite, until finally this Tweet came out, confirming the news that we all now know:
Initial concerns over Radulov’s past issues re-emerging with the Canadiens were quickly cast aside once the season started, and he quickly became an important cog in the team’s offence, forming a formidable duo with Alex Galchenyuk as part of the Canadiens’ first line, and showing a level of involvement and passion that quickly made him a favourite among the Bell Centre faithful.
Now that we’ve entered the window for an extension (opening on January 1 for one-year deals), it is time to start considering whether General Manager Marc Bergevin should offer Radulov a contract extension, and consequently protect the forward in the upcoming expansion draft.
Can the Canadiens afford him?
To answer that question, an understanding of their financial situation for next season is necessary.
First and foremost, when dealing with contracts for future seasons, Carey Price’s pending unrestricted free agency needs to be considered. The 2017-18 campaign is the final one Price’s current contract covers, and he will be due for a substantial raise on the $6.5 million he’s currently making.
As you can see above, the Habs have some large contracts coming off the books at the end of next season, most notably Alexei Emelin’s $4.1 million-average deal, and Tomas Plekanec’s recent two-year extension. That’s more than enough space to both find cheaper replacement options (or at least offer new extensions at lesser values), and increase Price’s salary.
With that situation considered, next on the to-do list is getting a new deal for Alex Galchenyuk before this season comes to a close. Marc Bergevin took a gamble on a two-year bridge deal with the young player, and now that Galchenyuk has emerged as a top player in the league, he will need to commit a significant portion of cap space to the team’s number-one centre.
Assuming that dollar figure will be somewhere in the $6-7 million per year range, similar to deals for other young stars like Mark Scheifele and Johnny Gaudreau, and that the salary cap stays at the same level as it was for this season, that still leaves about
$17 $16 million to sign a backup goaltender, one defenceman (Nathan Beaulieu is one option, as a restricted free agent this summer) and two forwards.
That is enough to give a large salary to a top-six winger, so the money shouldn’t be the determining factor on whether Radulov gets a new deal or not.
What should Bergevin do? Here is your opportunity to give us your opinion by completing this short poll.