At first glance, the Elias Pettersson extension looks like growing value for the Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit:© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
4 months ago
We here at CanucksArmy do not employ any meteorologists.
But we don’t need one on hand to tell you that the one dark cloud hanging over the Vancouver Canucks’ 2023/24 season has finally dissipated.
Elias Pettersson has signed a contract extension, and now he’s locked up as a Canuck for a long, long time.
After news broke earlier in the week that negotiations had picked up again, the Canucks announced the extension shortly after dawn on Saturday morning. Starting with the 2024/25 campaign, the contract extends Pettersson for the next eight years at a cap hit of $11.6 million.
Now, there are those in the fanbase and mediasphere who will be unable to look at such an amount and ever call it a discount. It is, after all, a $92.8 million commitment.
But the reporting this week had the potential cap hit at about $12.5 million, and this amount is significantly less than that. Then again, we don’t really need to rely on rumours and speculation to determine whether or not the Canucks got a good deal here.
We’ve got leaguewide context for that.
First, a quick glance at Pettersson, the player, within the context of his peers.
Few would dispute that he belongs in the uppermost echelon of NHL talent at this point. As of this writing, Pettersson sits tenth in NHL scoring with 75 points in 62 games.
And he’s not a flash in the pan, either. If we extend the window to this season plus the past two – a timeframe that goes back to before his true breakout – we find Pettersson ranked 15th in NHL scoring with 245 points in 222 games.
If we’re just limiting things to the centres alone, then we’re left with just five pivots who have put up more points than Pettersson since the start of 2021/22. Those players are Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, and our own JT Miller.
Nice crowd to be a part of.
Suffice it to say, then, that at least in terms of raw production, Pettersson is pretty safely a top-ten centre in the world right now, and that he’s probably closer to the #5 spot than he is the #10.
No, raw points aren’t everything that a player could bring to the table, nor is it the sum total of everything that Pettersson does well. But when it comes to determining contract value for a scoring forward, they kind of are.
So where does the new contract rank in terms of compensation for players in general and centres in specific?
As of right now, Pettersson is set to hit the 2024/25 books with the fifth-highest cap hit in hockey at $11.6 million. Just Matthews ($13.25 million), MacKinnon ($12.6 million), McDavid ($12.5 million), and Artemi Panarin ($11.643 million) will earn more on average than him. And when we look at the list of as-of-yet-unsigned free agents for this summer, we don’t see anyone likely to knock Pettersson out of the top-five.
Again, there are those who will hear “top-five cap hit in the NHL” and be unable to consider such a contract a good deal, or even a fair one.
Of course, that’s just Year One of the extension, and that year hasn’t even begun yet, but when it does, it will bring with it a $4 million jump in cap ceiling, which will be followed by another, perhaps larger jump the year after, and then should be back on the path of steadily rising.
In other words, with Pettersson’s contract now locked in to place, it’s only going to gain contextual value from here.
Next offseason, in 2025, the trio of Draisaitl, Mitch Marner, and Mikko Rantanen all need new contracts, and all should be receiving a cap hit at or above what Pettersson received. Then, in 2026, it’s names like McDavid, Kirill Kaprizov, Jack Eichel, and Connor Bedard. To be followed by Nikita Kucherov, Cale Makar, and our own Quinn Hughes in 2027.
The point being that, within its first few seasons, Pettersson’s contract value will slip down from fifth-place to perhaps out of the top-ten.
All the while, his cap hit remains in place.
Which is also something worth talking about when we talk value.
Pettersson is signed for the next eight years. He’ll still be 25 when it kicks in, and turn 26 a month into its first season. He’s then signed from that age right through to the age of 34, a period that covers the entire breadth of his potential prime. He won’t need re-upping until the Canucks have literally moved on to a new decade and a new era for the franchise.
If we compare Pettersson head-to-head with the likes of McDavid, MacKinnon, and Matthews, it will be hard to find any reasons for him to come out on top.
But then those folks aren’t signed for nearly as long, or for such an ideal portion of their careers. MacKinnon’s new contract kicked in this year, and carries him from 28 to 36. McDavid comes due in 2026 at the age of 28, after which he’ll assumably be signed from 29 to 37.
Matthews, meanwhile, only gave the Leafs a four-year commitment. His contract also begins with the 2024/25 season, when Matthews will be 27 years old, and expires in 2028, when he is 30. That means that Matthews will almost certainly be signing another deal at that point with a cap hit in excess of his current one, and that contract will take him from age 31 to 39 or so, well past the bounds of his prime.
So, really, the term plays as much of a role in calling Pettersson’s contract good value as the cap hit, because the term is what is going to ensure that this contract only gains value over time.
There’s more we could get into here.
The $11.6 million AAV will represent approximately 13.3% of the $87.5 million cap in 2024/25. That’s already a lower percentage of the cap than Crosby’s current contract was when he signed it back in 2013/14. Back then, Crosby’s $8.7 million cap hit was widely recognized as a discount, but it still made up a full 14.5 percent of the total cap.
Next season, the final year of Crosby’s contract, the $8.7 million will be just 9.9% of the cap ceiling. That seems like a pretty good indication of the sort of value-gain Pettersson’s contract could experience over its lifespan.
By next year alone, Pettersson’s $11.6 million will be down to just 12.6% of the estimated $92 million cap ceiling. That’s a lower percentage than players like John Tavares, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Drew Doughty are currently taking up on their own team’s books.
In the end, perhaps we don’t need complex analysis here. The advanced stats gurus all seem to agree that the Pettersson extension is great value…
…and we haven’t even talked about deeper measures like possession, control, play-driving, or those Selke votes, either.
But there doesn’t need to be anything fancy or advanced about saying that Pettersson is one of the best players in the NHL, and projects to continue to be for the foreseeable future.
As of right now, he’s paid what seems like a perfectly fair amount for his contributions. And that amount is now locked in for the next eight seasons running, during which NHL salaries promise to balloon and thus during which Pettersson’s contract will only gain contextual value.
Give it a few years, and Pettersson’s cap hit won’t even be in the top-20 anymore.
But Pettersson himself will be. He’ll still be smack-dab in the middle of his prime, and he’ll be under contract.

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