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The risk of four-year contracts for Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook

Let’s face it: Kent Hughes has pulled off two major coups by signing Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook to four-year contracts. After all, the risk is minimal.

And the potential? High.

In both cases, Hughes went after a first-round pick from the 2019 crop (Cole Caufield’s, by the way) who was having trouble getting off the ground elsewhere in the United States. In both cases, a four-year contract at more or less $3 million per campaign was offered.

And in both cases, the player will be a restricted free agent at the end of the agreement.

If the guys take off and become the players they need to be, they’ll be paid what they’re worth in three or four years. With the cap increase, that’s expected.

But the risk is that they’ll do it elsewhere, and the CH won’t get full value for its players.

What you need to know is that in 2026 (end of Dach’s deal) and 2027 (end of Newhook’s deal), each player’s contract will bring him within a year of complete autonomy.

And a top-notch player who plays his cards right can choose his destination one year from full autonomy.

If the guys don’t sign a contract extension ahead of time and become excellent field hockey players, they could force the Habs’ hand to leave the organization if that’s what they want.

We saw this recently with Alex DeBrincat, who chose his destination outright, Pierre-Luc Dubois and even Matthew Tkachuk last year.

When a player is a year away from full autonomy, it can be a game-changer. Tyler Toffoli, Connor Hellebuyck, Mark Scheifele, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund and Noah Hanifin are all names to remember in this regard.

And they all play/played for a Canadian team.

What works in the CH’s favour is that Dach and Newhook won’t have the “prestige” of the players named above. Both guys are Canadians, and Montreal isn’t a small Canadian market either.

What’s more, it’s building a fine corporate culture under Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes and Martin St-Louis.

As I said, I really don’t think we’re there yet, and I think the two contracts awarded by the Habs’ GM are excellent for the future. It takes contracts like these to build a great team.

But what I’m saying is that, more and more, a contract a year away from autonomy is becoming a risk in Canada. You just have to keep that in mind.

In gusts

– Too bad.

– Not crazy.

– Connor Bedard is in a good environment. [BPM Sports]

– Like a fish in water.

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