Canadiens goalie Carey Price needs a new contract this summer.
Photograph by: JESSICA RINALDI REUTERS FILE, Freelance
MONTREAL - Carey Price is the latest evidence that the Canadiens have a new way of doing business.
“The negotiations were relatively easy,” Price said Monday after agreeing to a six-year contract that will pay him $6.5 million a season.
The surprise announcement by general manager Marc Bergevin came 11 days after the team announced that they had filed for salary arbitration. The quick settlement was in sharp contrast to Price’s last negotiations with the team. Those talks dragged on into late summer before Price signed a two-year deal worth $5.5 million.
In a conference call from his home in Williams Lake, B.C., Price described the six-year term as “strategic.”
“I’ll be 30 when this deal expires and that’s when I should be in my prime,” Price said. “I hope I’ve had a few good seasons and a Stanley Cup or two and I’ll be set for my next contract.”
It should be noted that Price already has a sweet deal. Only two goaltenders have a higher cap hit than Price. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne tops the list at $7 million while Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers checks in at $6.875 million.
Price described the past season as “pretty good,” but it wasn’t as good as his previous season and it ended prematurely after he suffered a concussion.
“I’m healthy now and I plan to go back to Kelowna and start training on the ice,” Price said.
When asked whether the new contract brought any additional pressure, he said: “There’s always pressure. The contract may make me a target, but I’m confident and looking forward to the season.”
Price said he felt the Canadiens had a good nucleus of players and are in a position to turn things around if they stay healthy. He said he was happy to see the team add some grit in Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust, and also welcomed back defenceman Francis Bouillon.
Price also said he was happy that head coach Michel Therrien retained goaltender coach Pierre Groulx.
“Michel talked to me about Pierre and I told him that we had a good relationship, on and off the ice,” Price said. “He’s awesome. He’s grown to know my game. He knows when I need to be pushed and when to back off.”
The signing gives the Canadiens 21 players under contract and Bergevin has $8.852 million in free cap space. Both of those numbers are a bit skewed because not all of the 21 players will be around when the season-opening roster is declared.
The group doesn’t include unsigned restricted free-agents P.K. Subban, Lars Eller, Aaron Palushaj or Raphael Diaz. And the list does include Scott Gomez and his $7.3-million cap hit.
Bergevin said he will deal with Gomez when the time comes, but nobody expects him to be on the roster.
Bergevin said he talked with the agents for UFAs P.A. Parenteau and Jaromir Jagr, but signing them didn’t make sense financially and the Canadiens want to keep spots open for their younger forwards.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette