Skip to content
Tanner Pearson: salary restraints may prevent the Habs from trading him
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

I’ll be honest with you: if you told me you’d forgotten that Tanner Pearson plays for the Habs, I’d have a hard time blaming you. Pearson had a few good games early in the season, but since then, it’s been very difficult for him.

In fact, after scoring five points in his first five games, he’s scored just three in his last 25. He was also injured for a month and a half between the beginning of December and the end of January.

Remember that he was originally acquired (along with a third-round pick in 2025) in return for Casey DeSmith. Intriguingly, his contract expires at the end of the season.

This opened the door to a transaction, as he could have been a rental player.

However, in today’s episode of the Out of the Zone podcast, Guillaume Lefrançois explained that, in his opinion, it’s quite unlikely that the Habs would trade Pearson for one simple reason: it would seriously handcuff the Habs in terms of salary restraints.

This season, Pearson has a cap hit of $3.25 million. Obviously, no aspiring team will want such a contract (and most simply don’t have the money anyway), so the Habs will have to withhold salary to trade him.

On the other hand, remember that a team can’t withhold more than three salaries at a time. The Habs are already holding back two (Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry), and while Petry will still be one in 2024-25, the retention space occupied by Edmundson will be freed up when the free agent market opens, not before.

It would be the same for Pearson, for that matter.

As a result, as Lefrançois points out, the Habs wouldn’t be able to withhold salary in a draft transaction, for example. And that would handcuff the club, which might want to make a big deal at that time.

Mathias Brunet even claims that Pearson’s value is “almost nil”. At best, then, the club could get something like a late-round draft pick… but is a sixth-round pick (for example) worth wasting one last bit of salary retention space? Probably not, no.

At this point, the Habs would be far better off keeping Pearson to fill out a jersey and try to do what they did last year in the Nick Bonino deal: be a middleman who withholds 25% of a player’s total salary to facilitate the trade of a rental player to an aspiring team.

Again, if it’s for a late-round draft pick, the third salary-holding space could simply be retained beyond the deadline. That can be done, too, and it would help the club have some wiggle room until the free agent market opens.

The other possibility is that a contending team might want to make a bad contract so bad that it’s willing to take Pearson on at full salary in return for that bad contract and a bonus for the Habs. Again, it’s pretty unlikely that there’d be a fit (it would really take the perfect situation for a team to give a bonus for Pearson, no matter how bad a contract they might get rid of), but it’s still a (small) possibility.

We’ll have to keep an eye on it, but what seems clear is that a deal involving Pearson seems, at best, fairly unlikely.

If he has a huge February (maybe playing on the first power play wave will help), things could change… but I wouldn’t put my money on it, let’s say.

In Brief

– Enjoy.

– Maybe in the draft.

Of course.

– Well done.

– It’s not just in Montreal where people are complaining about public money being invested in stadiums these days.

More Content