Pierre LeBrun of TSN reports: that the Vancouver Canucks have agreed to terms for multi-year deals with restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. Pettersson’s deal is for three years at an average annual value of $7.35 million, while Hughes’s deal is for six years at $7.85 million. LeBrun says the contracts themselves have yet to be finalized.
Sportsnets Satiar Shah was the first to report on Thursday evening that Hughes’ deal would last six years, while… Rick Dhaliwal of the Athletic reported a three-year contract for Pettersson.
Pettersson’s three-year deal comes after scoring 153 points in just 165 games during his first three seasons in the league. The fifth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft is still considered a top-10 center in the league by some, but injuries this season limited his production (and negotiating leverage) by 21 points in 26 games. Winner of the 2019 Calder Trophy, Pettersson’s contract is certainly of spectacular value to the Canucks right now. The scoring and the two-way play that Pettersson brings to the table makes it look like he’s making about $1.5m– $2 million less than he should be.
Hughes, a year younger than his attacker, has had nearly as much success and accolades in his young career. While the upcoming 22-year-old only has two full NHL seasons to his name, his 53 points in 68 games (along with 21:53 average time on ice) in 2019-20 were good enough to place him second in Calder Trophy voting, and even earned some Norris Trophy votes along the way. Although his defensive play faltered slightly this year, points production remained steady with 41 points in 56 games. A long-term commitment is key here for Vancouver, providing some cost security at a reasonable cap-hit as it continues to evolve.
There were many concerns about Vancouver’s ability to keep both Pettersson and Hughes under an $81.5 million salary cap this season, but with Micheal Ferland went into the reserve for long-term injuries, general manager Jim Benning appears to have successfully manipulated a tight financial situation. CapFriendly projects a current cap hit of $82.9 million with a full 23-man roster for the Canucks, breaking the salary cap far less than Ferland’s $3.5 million cap hit. While the details of how the Canucks can maximize the cap relief aren’t quite worked out, at least they’ll rest now that they know they’ll meet at the start of the season.
These contracts represent an important season for this Canucks squad as they aim to return to the playoffs after a surprise run in 2020. Pettersson is likely to reprise his role as the team’s frontline center, flanked by JT Miller and Brock Boeser . The secondary score has been boosted by the addition of Conor Garland, while young wingers Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin could make a big impact.
Hughes comes in as the team’s undisputed No. 1 defender following Alexander Edler’s free agency departure to the Los Angeles Kings. While the additions of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tucker Poolman to the blueline have been controversial from an outside perspective, the team still hopes a recovery campaign is in order for both of them. Hughes’ ice age will no doubt increase from the 22:48 he played last year and will become an increasingly important part of the team.