Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
4 comparables for Elias Pettersson’s upcoming contract extension with the Canucks
By Noah Strang10 months ago
July 1st, 2023 marks the date when the Vancouver Canucks can officially sign Elias Pettersson to a contract extension. The 24-year-old Swedish centreman has taken another step in his game this season and blossomed into a legitimate high-end first-line centre, scoring 97 points through 75 games.
Pettersson is one of the most talented players to ever wear the Canucks jersey and has had a historically strong start to his career in Vancouver. With 318 points through 320 career games, he’s third all-time in franchise history in points-per-game behind just Pavel Bure and J.T. Miller.
Due to salary cap constraints, the Canucks were only able to sign Pettersson to a bridge deal after his rookie contract had expired in 2021. This means that while he’s been playing for just $7.35 million, he’s now going to need another extension prior to the 2024-25 season. His performance across this year means he is due for a major raise.
There are few players of Pettersson’s quality around the league. He’s an offensive wizard, capable of both scoring highlight-reel goals and making jaw-dropping assists. He’s also a strong defensive centre and contributes to both special teams units. All of this means he’s likely going to get the most expensive contract in Canucks’ history.
While it’s difficult to find comparables to Pettersson’s situation due to the fact there aren’t many players in the same tier as him, there are a few similar situations that have taken place league-wide.
Here are four contract extensions signed by arbitration-eligible RFAs and what they might mean for Petersson’s upcoming mega-deal.
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning
Age and year when signed: 26 years old (2021)Previous season: 56 GP, 23 G, 25 A, 48 PTSContract: 8 years, $9.5 million AAV (11.6% of total cap)
Perhaps the best comparable to Pettersson is Brayden Point, the superstar offensive dynamo in Tampa Bay. Point signed a large extension in the summer of 2021 that will keep him in Florida through the end of the decade. While his stats in the year prior to signing this extension may look relatively pedestrian, he had also scored 56 points in 46 games across the team’s two previous playoff runs, both of which resulted in a Stanley Cup.
Point has never touched the 100-point mark, a number that Pettersson seems likely to hit this season. In addition, Point hasn’t played much on the penalty kill since his sophomore season, a role that Pettersson has started to flourish in this year.
Another factor to consider is the difference in income tax between Florida and British Columbia. Point gets to play 41 games at home in Tampa Bay where there is no income tax. This results in a vastly different take-home pay compared to if he had the same contract but played for the Canucks and was subject to the British Columbia tax rates.
If we assume that the NHL salary cap will rise to $83.5 million next season, 11.6% of the cap would mean an AAV of $9.68 million. With Pettersson’s better two-way game and the financial realities of living in Canada, it seems likely that he will easily surpass this contract into the low double digits.
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
Age and year when signed: 26 years old, (2022)Previous season: 73 GP, 15 G, 44 A, 59 PTSContract: 8 years, $9.15 million AAV (11.09% of total cap)
The BC-born Mathew Barzal is another solid comparable for Elias Pettersson as a franchise centreman that recently signed a long-term extension at a similar age. Barzal re-upped in Long Island for eight years for $9.15 million per season, taking up 11.09% of the salary cap in a deal that is very similar to the one inked by Brayden Point in Tampa Bay.
Barzal has only broken the 20-goal mark once and that was as a rookie. Pettersson has now scored 30 in two consecutive seasons and could even hit 40.
While Barzal and Pettersson are both number one centres, they’re not in the same tier of player. Pettersson has established himself as an MVP candidate and would be garnering more discussion if the Canucks were any good. Barzal is a great player, but he’s not on that level and will need to take a step forward offensively to reach that, something that he might be able to do playing alongside Bo Horvat.
If anything, this Barzal contract feels like the floor for what’s possible. If the Canucks get Pettersson signed in that 11-12% range, that should be considered a steal after the season he’s had this year.
Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators
Age and year when signed: 25 years old, (2007)Previous season: 67 GP, 34 G, 53 A, 87 PTSContract: 7 years, $7 million AAV (13.92%)
While this contract was signed 15 years ago, some similarities can be drawn between this deal and the one that Pettersson is about to sign. Spezza was coming off an unbelievable season with the Senators, producing at a 1.29 points per game pace, the same rate that Pettersson is at through 75 games. Hockey Reference also has Spezza with 10.4 points shares in the season before he signed this deal while Pettersson is at 10.1 with a few games to go.
This feels like a very strong comparable for Pettersson. If the Canucks get the extension done this summer, Pettersson’s career stats to this point would look very similar to Spezza’s at the same age in a lot of ways.
His contract had an AAV of just $7 million, which represented 13.92% of the salary cap at the time. If we again assume that the league-wide salary cap will be $83.5 million next year, that 13.92% would mean an AAV of $11.623 million. If the Canucks are going to buy up his prime years, this seems more in line with Pettersson’s true value and would make him one of the highest-paid players in the league alongside Auston Matthews ($11.64m) and Artemi Panarin ($11.642m).
Roope Hintz, Dallas Stars
Age when signed: 26 years old, (2022)Previous season: 80 GP, 37 G, 35 A, 72 PTSContract: 8 years, $8.45 million AAV (10.24%)
Roope Hintz signed an extension with the Dallas Stars last November in a very similar situation to Petterson in which he had another season left to play before his deal expired. Hintz has emerged as an important member of a strong, young core in Dallas.
Not only did Hintz score 37 goals in the season prior to signing this extension, but he’s also developed a reputation as one of the best defensive centres in the league. He’s received votes for the Selke Trophy in the past and delivers a ton of value on the defensive side of the equation.
The one thing that Pettersson has on Hintz is a more complete resume. While Hintz did almost score 40 goals in the season prior to signing this deal, it was a bit of a breakout season. Pettersson has been of the Canucks’ best players since he stepped onto the ice and while this year did mark a large step forward, there’s not much concern that it’s an outlier, especially with the way that the Canucks have struggled at times.
Again, Texas does not have an individual state income tax, helping the Stars keep their contracts slightly lower. 10.24% of the salary cap is a really good deal for the Stars and if the Canucks have an opportunity to get Pettersson at that number, they should jump at it. In reality, it seems that Pettersson is likely to come in higher than this.
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