The Vancouver Canucks extended forward Elias Pettersson and defenceman Quinn Hughes on Friday. The two cornerstone players were restricted free agents (RFA) but will join the team midway through training camp.
The team locked up its best defenceman for six years at an annual average value (AAV) of $7.85 million while signing their best forward to a three-year deal with an AAV of $7.35 million. Agent Pat Brisson represented Hughes and Pettersson and negotiated their deals with the Canucks at the same time.
Pettersson Banking on Himself
Through three seasons with the Canucks, Pettersson has posted 65 goals and 153 points in 165 games. He has been the team’s best player on the roster throughout his short career, which is why the AAV he received is impressive for general manager Jim Benning. Most expected the Swedish forward to receive a contract with an AAV north of $8 million but to sign him to a contract with a cap hit below $7.5 million is good news for the Canucks.
Since the Canucks are facing a cap crunch, they couldn’t sign Pettersson to a contract with a high cap-hit. Therefore, the forward’s agent and the team settled on a bridge deal. If Pettersson plays at the high level expected from him over the next three seasons, he is due for a big pay raise. He will be an RFA once again, but he will receive a long-term deal with a cap-hit closer to $10 million, especially if there’s an increase in salary cap over the next few years.
Canucks Lock Up Hughes
Although the Canucks signed Pettersson to a bridge deal, they were able to lock up their top defenceman. Hughes has been a member of the franchise for two full seasons, posting 11 goals and 97 points in 129 games. He is already in the conversation for the greatest offensive defenceman in team history. Although he has been amazing on the offensive end, his play in the defensive end has been criticized. At 21 years old, that is something he can still work on throughout the next six seasons.
Additionally, signing Hughes to a six-year contract with an AAV of $7.85 million is good for the Canucks, especially compared to some of the other recently signed defencemen. The Edmonton Oilers signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year contract with an AAV of $9.25 million, while the Chicago Blackhawks locked up Seth Jones to an eight-year deal with an AAV of $9.5 million, and lastly, Zach Werenski signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $9.58 million. Benning and the Canucks are lucky to sign their top defenceman to a deal below $8 million and have him locked up for six years.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.