TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that Tomas Plekanec has signed what is believed to be a six-year deal with the Habs for $30 million.
Without knowing the nuts and bolts of the deal, my first reaction is that Plekanec was a man of his word. He truly wanted to stay in Montreal and signed this contract knowing full well that he could have been paid more handsomely had he waited for July 1.
It looked to be a perfect storm for Plekanec, with the NHLPA voting Tuesday to invoke its right to apply a five per cent growth factor onto next year's salary cap, which should push it above the $59 million mark. With every team having an extra $2 million+ to play with (or at least the teams that spend to the cap), Plekanec really could have cashed in on Canada Day, especially considering he could have signed with a team that had no state taxes instead of the team with by far the most punitive income taxes in the whole NHL.
But he said he wanted to stay in Montreal, and that's what he did. It's good to know there's some honesty left in this business.
So couple that news with the earlier nugget that Mathieu Darche has re-signed for $550K on a one-year, one-way deal, and the Canadiens salary cap picture gets a lot clearer heading towards Friday's draft and the start of free agency.
According to capgeek.com, the Habs have 15 players under contract including Plekanec and Darche, but not including Ben Maxwell (who is on the roster on the site because he finished the season in Montreal, but is no way assured of making the team next year). Those 15 players take up about $51.5 million in cap space. (UPDATE 4:28 P.M. - The site's been updated and showed my math is wrong. Maxwell has been taken off the roster and Plekanec has been added, giving the Habs a $50.1 million payroll. When you add Darche's contract, that make's it about $50.6 million.)
Let's say we're working with a $59 million cap for now, so that would leave Pierre Gauthier with $7.5 million (UPDATE - this should read $8.4 million) to fill out seven to eight roster spots, including both goaltenders.
Let's also say Carey Price, Benoit Pouliot, Maxim Lapierre and Tom Pyatt are brought back for a total of $4 million, give or take a few hundred thousand. That leaves somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3.5 million (No, that should be $4.4 million) to sign a veteran backup goalie who will compete for playing time, plus three more forwards.
I'm going to say one of those forwards will be Max Pacioretty, and his price tag will be $910K, leaving around $2.6 million (No, more like $3.5 million) for the backup goalie and two more forwards.
Can it be done? Does that leave Gauthier enough wiggle room to be a player in free agency? Can he unload some salary in the form of Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.25 million) or Roman Hamrlik ($5.5 million)? Will he react to the arrival of Nathan Horton to the division, shoring up a Bruins attack that sorely needed it? Or will Gauthier simply allow the Habs to complete the draft and fill the roster with players from Hamilton in order to conserve some space for next year's trade deadline?
All questions that are still left to be answered in what is quickly becoming a bonanza week of hockey news. Stay tuned...