There was much to like about the contract signed by Tomas Plekanec, not the least of which is that it came before both the draft and the July 1 free agent frenzy. It gave the Habs more certainty going into those critical periods.
The no-trade clause, while a potential negative, could also be viewed as a positive as it shows Plekanec's commitment to the Habs. He meant it when he said he wants to play in Montreal. The length in contract too is another sign of that commitment, and it also helps solidify the Habs pivot position for years to come.
When taken in conjunction with the Halak trade, it's obvious that their playoff MVP was moved to create the necessary cap space to sign Plekanec. And because Ellers was identified as the main player in return, one has to wonder about the future of Dominic Moore and/or Glen Metropolit in the short term, and Scott Gomez the long term. If Ellers works out as Gauthier thinks he will, he and Plekanec will form a solid one-two punch down the middle for the Habs.
But for all those positives, one has to wonder about the money. $5M seems a bit much for a player who seems to go invisible during the playoffs. By comparison, Ryan Kesler was in the same position as Plekanec (first time UFA at age 25) and also got $5M/yr. But Kesler also got fewer years, is a bigger body, had more points in both the regular season and playoffs, is better in the faceoff circle, and has a right handed shot to boot.
All of that says that the Habs overpaid Plekanec by maybe $1M/year. That kind of money would no doubt come in handy for a team that now has only $9M in cap space to sign their remaining free agents and fill out the roster.