Hagel’s new deal in Tampa Bay illustrates why the Elias Pettersson contract negotiation isn’t easy: Around the League
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
29 days ago
Welcome back to Around the League — the series here at CanucksArmy where we examine news and notes from around the National Hockey League, oftentimes through a Vancouver Canucks-tinted lens!
Our thanks go out to Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien Brisebois for signing a contract extension on August 22nd and thus, giving us something to talk about on this hockey blog. On Tuesday morning, the Lightning announced an eight-year contract extension for winger Brandon Hagel. The deal carries an annual average value of $6.5 million and a 16-team no-trade list in the final six years.
An even greater thanks goes out to Brisebois for making that extension eight years long — the same number of years many expect the Canucks will hand Elias Pettersson on his next contract.
The Canucks’ number one centre has been eligible to sign an extension with the club since July 1st, but here we are, with training camp a little over a month away, and still, there’s no extension for Pettersson.
General manager Patrik Allvin didn’t seem too worried about getting the extension done this offseason, reminding everyone that Pettersson will be a restricted free agent when his current contract expires at the conclusion of the 2023-24 NHL season, meaning the Canucks will keep his negotiating rights beyond July 1st 2024, the first day of NHL free agency. Many fans would like to see the team get the deal before that, obviously.
Unfortunately, negotiations for this contract haven’t been easy, and don’t seem like they’re going to get easier anytime soon. Pettersson exploded for 102 points last season while maintaining an incredibly high level of defensive play. He truly did it all for the Canucks last season and managed to be a constant in another season full of volatility. As such, he’s in line for a big pay raise from his current contract, which carries an annual average value of $7.35 million.
But what should Pettersson’s new eight-year deal look like? And don’t worry, this isn’t a “projecting Pettersson’s next contract” article. Rather, it’s zeroing in on the challenges that are facing the two sides.
We’ve now seen two eight-year deals signed this offseason, the first going to Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho, and the second going to Hagel today. We’ve already broken down how the Aho contract essentially serves as a floor for the Pettersson camp to point to in their negotiations with the Canucks, but what we haven’t discussed much is how the length of the contracts will relate to the salary cap.
It’s believed that with the players’ debt from the COVID year set to be paid off in October, the NHL salary cap will see a somewhat sizable increase in 2024-25, ranging anywhere from four to over nine million. This is where Hagel and Aho’s deals come into play when it comes to the percentage of cap space used on each player.
Aho’s current contract at $8.46 million takes up 10.1% of the Canes’ cap space. If Aho’s $9.75 million extension kicked in this season, it would take up 11.7% of the Canes’ salary cap. But if the cap increases from $83.5 million to $90 million, Aho’s extension will take up 10.8% of the Canes’ salary cap. This is a raise in pay no doubt, but in the cases both Hagel and Aho, the Bolts and Canes are playing the long game and counting on a salary cap increase, to some extent.
For Hagel, if his new contract kicked in this year, it would take up 7.8% of Tampa Bay’s salary cap. For a middle six winger, this is a bit steep. But what the Bolts are really hoping for is that when the salary cap increases next year — and hopefully year over year beyond that — Hagel’s contract will continue to look better and better as the percentage it takes up on their cap decreases. With a salary cap of $90 million, Hagel’s contract would eat up 7.2% of the Bolts’ cap space.
The Pettersson camp will likely be looking for Pettersson to take up somewhere around 12% of the Canucks’ total salary cap, which would put him at an AAV of $10.8 million if the NHL salary cap upper limit is in fact increased to $90 million. A worry for the Canucks, undoubtedly, is if the salary cap doesn’t increase as much as everyone is anticipating it will. The club also has to sign Filip Hronek to a new contract at the same time as Pettersson, and will also have to contend with a $4,766,667 cap hit from the Oliver Ekman-Larsson buyout in 2025-26 and 2026-27.
This is all just to say that both sides of this negotiation have plenty to consider and worry about, and that ultimately, this contract may take longer to get done than fans may have hoped heading into the offseason.
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