The news came out late Monday night that Max Pacioretty, last season’s leading scorer for the Habs, signed a six year contract extension, giving him the longest contract on the Canadiens, one year more than Carey Price and Josh Gorges. The deal takes effect at the start of the 2013-2014 season and will reportedly pay out 27 million over six years for a cap hit of 4.5 million, exactly the same as linemate Erik Cole.
The move was welcome news to Habs fans and is another sign that while Montreal’s results were less than stellar last season, GM Marc Bergevin does indeed have faith that the team’s core is solid. That long term core now consists of Price, Gorges, Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Travis Moen, Rene Bourque and offseason acquisition Brandon Prust, who all have four or more years left on their contracts. You can throw Erik Cole into that core as well, he has three years remaining on his current deal and is a good bet to stick around when that runs out. You can also count on P.K. Subban being a part of the team’s future. Currently an RFA, he’s still negotiating for the upcoming season but signs point to a long term relationship between the flashy defenseman and the Canadiens. David Desharnais could also have a long term deal in the near future, Bergevin has said he is open to the possibility of extending his contract before Desharnais becomes an RFA at the end of the season.
If all that doesn’t put a smile on the faces of Habs fans, consider the youth that Montreal is developing. Alex Galchenyuk, the number three overall pick last draft is obviously a part of the team’s long term plan. Galchenyuk represents that elusive big, skilled center which has been a cornerstone of so many great teams (see: Pittsburgh Penguins). Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz are a pair of talented young defensemen that could have long careers in this city, but even if both are lost to free agency when their contracts end two years from now, the Canadiens are also developing other promising defensemen like Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis and Frederic St-Denis.
While Montreal’s line-up hasn’t changed drastically since the end of last year’s disastrous campaign, all signs point to a bright future for the franchise. The Habs will boast a solid mix of scoring, defense and goaltending for years to come while the management group with Bergevin at the helm and Trevor Timmins taking the lead in terms of entry draft scouting should further help the Canadiens in solidifying their roster for years to come.