The Vancouver Canucks officially have all of their players under contract for the upcoming season.
Late Thursday night, reports started trickling in that the organization had finalized new deals with RFA stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. Discussions had been ongoing all summer without any success, forcing the two youngsters to miss the opening days of training camp, but General Manager Jim Benning was finally able to put pen to paper for the team’s two franchise players.
The optimistic news of their contract progress was first shared by Thomas Drance of The Athletic, as well as insider Rick Dhaliwal.
A few hours later, the specific numbers were shared, thanks to Sportsnet 650’s Satiar Shah and Irf Gaffar of The Fourth Period.
The team waited until Sunday morning to officially announce the new contracts, even though they’ve essentially been done deals since Friday. And right before the anti-climactic announcement, fans were able to see exactly how each contract will be structured moving forward, thanks to PuckPedia.
Let’s start with Pettersson.
According to PuckPedia, the Swedish centre will receive a base salary of $3 million this upcoming season, in addition to a $1 million signing bonus. The following year, Pettersson’s base salary will jump up to $7.8 million before reaching $10.25 million for the 2023-24 season. He will account for a cap hit of $7.35 million over the next three years, $350,000 more than Mat Barzal, who was often considered the best comparable to Pettersson during the negotiations.
After the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, Pettersson will still have RFA status with arbitration rights, and will also be one year away from unrestricted free agency. If the Canucks want to retain those rights, they will need to extend Pettersson a qualifying offer of $8.82 million. Pettersson could also file for arbitration, similar to what Jason Dickinson did this past summer.
Pettersson will only be 25 years old by the time his current bridge deal expires.
Now onto Hughes.
The Canucks were able to lock down the blueliner for six years, with an AAV of $7.85 million over that span. Similar to Pettersson, the team was able to finalize a backloaded deal with Hughes to work around their current cap crunch.
Hughes will receive a base salary of $4 million this upcoming year, which will steadily increase to $6.5 million, $8.6 million and $9.5 million over the following three seasons. The former Calder Trophy runner-up will hit his big pay day during the 2025-26 campaign, where he is expected to make a base salary of $10.25 million. That number will move down to $8.25 million in the final year of the deal.
The former seventh overall pick will be 27 years old when this deal expires, and will have only lost one year of unrestricted free agency. Currently, Hughes won’t be making as much money as other stud blueliners like Cale Makar or Miro Heiskanen, but could very much blow their AAVs out of the water when his next contract is finalized.
According to PuckPedia, it also appears that Hughes will not have a NTC included in the last year of his contract.
With the two new deals, Hughes and Pettersson are now the first and second-highest paid players on the team, and will incur a combined cap hit of $15.2 million for the upcoming season. Defenceman Oliver-Ekman Larsson rounds out the top-three list with his $7.26 million AAV. Like Hughes, his contract is also set to expire at the end of the 2026-27 sesaon.
Despite the delay, Benning should be commended for landing these two stars at their respective prices. Yes, the conversation can always find its way back to how Benning got himself into this financial dilemma in the first place but, past decisions aside, this is definitely a win-win for the organization and their young core.
More importantly, it gives the team better financial clarity on how to approach the next round of contract negotiations. Over the next two seasons, Benning and his team will need to re-sign winger Brock Boeser, whose three-year, $17.625 million bridge deal expires next summer, as well as Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller, who will both need raises from their $5.5 million and $5.25 million AAVs in two years time.
The Canucks only have four preseason contests remaining before their regular season opener against the Edmonton Oilers on October 13th. According to Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre, the team is hoping that Pettersson and Hughes can participate in their first full practice on Monday, giving them just over a week to physically and mentally prepare for the new hockey campaign.
Benning, Pettersson and Hughes will also address the media from Rogers Arena on Sunday, October 3rd at 12:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts on the new deals for Pettersson and Hughes? Make sure to drop a comment below!