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It will be very difficult to sign Juraj Slafkovsky for less money than Nick Suzuki
Credit: Getty Images

At the moment, I’m sure that Juraj Slafkovsky’s contract isn’t the highest priority in management’s offices. After all, the draft and the free agent market are coming up, and Slaf’s contract doesn’t expire until July 2025.

On July 1 of next season, the former top pick in the 2022 draft will become a restricted free agent (if he doesn’t sign before then).

As far as Arpon Basu is concerned, he’d like to see the matter settled in July of this year. The journalist, who was a guest on the Behind the Play podcast, opened the door to the Slovak signing a more medium-term contract. He’s talking about five years.

However, he mentions that the Habs would be very happy to sign him for seven or eight years. Makes sense.

Has the forward proven himself enough for Kent Hughes to sign him for a very long term like that? According to Basu, the answer is yes. After all, in the second half of the season, he was one of the team’s best players.

But for his next contract, Montreal will want to sign him at a lower price than Nick Suzuki. That goes without saying; he’s the captain, the number-one center and the club’s top scorer (for now). Tricolore management will have to be creative to convince the player and his agent to sign “at a discount”. Because yes, if he signs for a lesser contract or one similar to that of Suzuki and Cole Caufield, it will be at a discount.

As Basu so aptly explained on the podcast, agents no longer really look at how much money a player gets, but rather at the percentage of the payroll their client’s next pact will occupy.

According to CapFriendly, my best friend for a few more days, Suzuki and Caufield’s contracts occupy 8.9% of the team’s payroll. With next year’s cap increase to $88 million, the percentages will change, and Gerry Johanssen, Slaf’s agent, will have every right in the world to demand that percentage and more.

It will therefore be very difficult for Montreal to sign him for less than these two other stars up front…

Once again, Hughes will have to be creative, and according to Basu, he has to sell the player that Suzuki is the captain and that his contract is the highest standard in the line-up. Once again, the rising salary cap works against the club. When number 14 signed his eight-year, $7.875 million contract, the payroll was $81.5 million. In 2024-2025, it will be $88 million. That’s an increase of $6.5 million.

With $6.5 million, you can sign good players.

Right now in the league, guys like Brock Boeser, Hamphus Lindholm, Brendan Gallagher, Claude Giroux, Chris Kreider and Brandon Hagel are making $6.5 million. They’re all pretty good hockey players…


– A beautiful moment.

– Of note.

– Well done.

– Big reduction, indeed.

– Huge.

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