Saturday, July 17, 2010

What's Price worth?

The Habs have a few remaining pieces to round out their roster for next year, the biggest of which is RFA Carey Price. As reported here earlier, Gauthier probably made a huge blunder by trading Halak and not signing a decent goalie to replace him (Alex Auld certainly doesn't qualify). Gauthier had the right idea by trading Sergei Kostitsyn for essentially the negotiating rights to Dan Ellis (and Dustin Boyd), as Ellis was one of the better goalies available. Maybe not as good as Turco or Nabokov, but certainly on a second tier.

But he still managed to fumble away that opportunity, letting Ellis sign elsewhere for a mere $500k more than what he eventually signed Alex Auld for. Now Price's agent is in the driver's seat, knowing that his client is the undisputed #1 goaltender going forward.

But this mistake aside, what should Price be paid? His cap figure from his original contract stood at $2.2M. But that certainly was inflated by his potential, not by what he had actually accomplished.

And the Habs can't afford much more than that anyway. According to Gauthier has about $4.7M left to sign Price as well as add a couple of forwards. The site makes a few assumptions about who will actually make the roster, including Boyd and Lars Ellers. These are reasonable assumptions, so one only needs to figure out who the two remaining forwards would be to arrive at the remaining cap space for Price.

Those forwards could be any of the following:
  • Max Pacioretty ($910k cap hit), another first rounder who could push Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt and Mathieu Darche for playing time.
  • Ryan White ($850k), a gritty forward who would be the only right handed centerman on the team.
  • Alexander Avtsin ($607k), a big right winger who will only make around $67k playing for the Bulldogs. He could have made much more staying in the KHL, so he must think his chances of sticking with the big club are fairly good.
  • Ben Maxwell ($850k), who managed to grab a postseason roster spot with the Habs even though he could have been gaining valuable experience with the Bulldogs' own deep playoff run.
The safe bet for the remaining two spots would be on Maxwell and White. That would leave about $3M left for Price. One would hope that Gauthier would leave some cap room for future transactions, and sign Price for a more reasonable $2M cap hit. But Price's agent has almost certainly done the same math, and knows he can get more. And hence the prolonged standoff.

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