Montreal Canadiens Lock Up Juraj Slafkovsky With Eight-Year Extension

The Canadiens have their 2022 first overall pick locked up long-term.
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens took the first opportunity to lock up Juraj Slafkovsky long-term with an eight-year contract extension on July 1st. Canadiens fans were disappointed with the activity of Kent Hughes on Free Agent Frenzy as his only work was a one-year deal to Alex Barre-Boulet. However, the Canadiens now have their first-overall pick from 2022 on their roster through the 2033 season. The deal is an eight-year extension worth $60.8 million, a $7.6 million average annual value.

Slafkovsky's career-high in points was 50 in 82 games last season, but he is still just 20. The contract could give tremendous value as the NHL expects the salary cap to rise in the coming years. Slafkovsky found a fit on the first line with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki last season, and if the trio continues to gain chemistry and develop together, they'll be a force for many years.

Caufield's contract was $25,000 less per year than Suzuki's, and now Slafkovsky's will come in at $275,000 less. The Canadiens have a clear goal of not letting any of their players have an average annual value over Suzuki, which is the basis of a solid franchise foundation. We've seen how it can backfire when the stars of a team battle for expensive contracts, where the Toronto Maple Leafs have four forwards above $10 million and struggle to surround those players with depth.

We've also seen the opposite end of that, as the Boston Bruins used the model that the Canadiens are trying to build with Suzuki. Patrice Bergeron had the highest average annual value on the team for many years, with players like David Pastrnak (before his long-term extension) and Brad Marchand never taking more money. It led the Bruins to a decade of success and a Stanley Cup.

Can the Canadiens use the same strategy to create a dynasty through the late 2020s and 2030s? The plans are in place for Kent Hughes to make that happen.