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Salary scale: “I hope Slafkovský gets more than Caufield” – Bob Hartley
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you probably know that Juraj Slafkovský is emerging at lightning speed with the Habs. The young Slovak forward has been racking up points at a furious pace for some time now, and is now on an eight-game point streak.

And in six games so far this month, he’s collected 10 points. He’s really playing some great hockey.

However, over the past week, we’ve also started talking about the kid‘s contractual situation, as he’s in the second year (of three) of his rookie contract. In practical terms, this means he can sign a contract extension this summer.

Last week, I was chatting a bit about all this with some colleagues at DLC… and obviously, I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about it, because it’s been a recurring topic over the past few days.

In particular, Antoine Roussel is among those who would give him an eight-year pact “as soon as possible”.

That said, if it were to happen, the question of contract terms would be the talk of the town… and today, Bob Hartley made an interesting point during his appearance on Martin Lemay’s show on BPM Sports: according to him, if Slaf signs long-term this summer, he expects his annual salary to be higher than that of Cole Caufield.

And he doesn’t rule out a scenario in which it’s higher than Nick Suzuki’s.

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Obviously, it’s a statement that gets a reaction, but as Hartley points out, it’s safe to assume that we’re starting to see the real Slafkovský right now. If Slaf can keep up this pace for the rest of his career, the club has a striker with a rare profile who will help them win games.

And that’s where the Habs’ salary scale comes into play.

Currently, the two highest-paid players in Montreal are Suzuki ($7.875 million per year) and Caufield ($7.85 million per year). As you’ll recall, when Caufield’s contract was negotiated, the Habs wanted to retain the salary scale that made Suzuki the club’s highest-paid player.

I’m well aware that, theoretically, Carey Price makes $10.5 million a year, but I’m focusing mainly on active players.

(Credit: Screenshot/CapFriendly)

Talking about Caufield’s contract, Kent Hughes had explained last June that he wanted to respect the scale considering that Suzuki and Caufield had signed their contracts at the same time, i.e. when their entry-level contracts had expired.

Theoretically, then, it would be the same for Slafkovský (whose contract extension would take effect at the end of his entry-level contract)… and if we maintain the same logic, he couldn’t sign for more than $7.875 million a year if he signs a long-term contract this summer.

Unless the reality is different in Slaf’s case, who was a first overall pick.

That said, what we’re seeing from Slaf these days is a pretty clear sign that he has the potential to become a big part of the team’s long-term success.

A bit like Nicolas Cloutier, I tend to think that Slafkovský could be the club’s most important striker.

On the one hand, it’s hard to see the Habs deviating from their salary scale, but at the same time, it’s hard to imagine a world where Slafkovský would decide to sign a Jack Hughes-style contract. It could be a hell of a windfall for the Tricolore (especially if he reaches his full potential), but I imagine Slaf ‘s agent would caution him against such a scenario, because right now, Hughes must be thinking he could have made a lot more money.

More and more, I’m beginning to think that Slafkovský won’t sign his next contract until the summer of 2025. At that point, your guess is as good as mine as to whether it will be a long-term pact or a transitional contract.

In gusts

– Well deserved.

– Makes sense, indeed.

– These will be crucial games.

– Speaking of contracts.

– A rather… peculiar list.

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