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The Jake Guentzel file could become (very) interesting for Kent Hughes
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

As you know, the Habs are currently withholding salary from Jeff Petry’s contract until July 2025 and from Joel Edmundson’s contract until July 2024. That’s not going to change.

So, until this summer, there’s only one salary retention available to the Habs and Kent Hughes. Will the Habs’ GM decide to use it now or save it for the draft, when big transactions sometimes take place?

I’m of the school of those who want to save salary retention for this summer. But I have one exception: if the Habs can trade Jake Allen or Joel Armia right now, guys who aren’t at the end of their contract, let them.

However, I don’t think either guy will be traded this winter – even if Armia is playing much better right now.

That’s why I want to keep the salary retention for this summer, because I think that’s when the Habs can make the best use of them. There’s always more to come at the draft.

As long as the Habs pass on Tanner Pearson at 50% of his salary, take him as a long shot and force the club to recall a guy from Laval who isn’t ready for the NHL at the end of the season, the club might as well keep the veteran (who is at the end of his contract) and, above all, keep its salary retention.

But Frank Seravalli (DFO), in a recent paper, came up with a theory explaining how the Habs could put their salary retention to good use between now and March 8. And that makes one more exception, in my eyes, in the matter.

In reality, the price of having a team withhold salary from Jake Guentzel’s contract could be very high, if we look at Patrick Kane in 2023.

Last year, Kane went through the Coyotes before arriving in New York. But because of the price tag, Arizona became the first team to get a third-round pick in return for a retention spot .

In real money, Kane earned $2.9 million that year. The Coyotes therefore paid $658,378 in real money for the season-ender, justifying a higher price than other such cases.

That’s the price of “buying” a third-round pick.

Seravalli went all the way back to 2019 to realize that the Hurricanes got a 13th overall pick to take $833,333 of Patrick Marleau’s contract. Have prices gone up since then to “buy” a first-round pick? Surely. How fast? Who knows.

But if we bring this back to Guentzel and realize that the player is earning six million dollars in real money this season, we realize that we’ll have to save about twice as much money for the third wheel of a transaction compared to Kane’s case.

Does this mean that the $1.313 million we’d have to hold back in real money to keep 50% of Guentzel’s salary would yield an excellent draft pick? Possibly, yes.

And that’s why Kent Hughes needs to keep his nose to the grindstone. There’s a fine line between getting a fifth-round pick for Nick Bonino (which was fine last year, since the Habs had no shortage of salary retention spots ) and the Guentzel file.

Having said that, I believe all this will ensure that the player won’t be traded.

Would a club short on cap space really want to pay the Penguins a crazy price – for a rental player? All this for a guy who’ll be injuredat the deadline… #4Weeks

Add to that the third-team price tag and the fact that the Penguins don’t seem sold on the idea of trading him and you have, in my eyes, a recipe for a guy who should finish the season with the Penguins.

I can’t imagine which team would go after him without having to see another club withhold salary, after all. But nonetheless, the Habs, who can maximize their long-term injury list, are going to want to have their noses in the matter.

In bursts

– With good reason.

– Very nice.

– Logical.

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