Habs lock down goalie Price on an eight-year deal worth $84 million
Carey Price couldn’t imagine wearing anything but a Canadiens uniform, while Patrick Marleau agonized about trading in his Sharks jersey for a Maple Leafs one.
On Sunday, Price signed an $84 million eight-year extension that means he’ll probably finish his career in Montreal, Marleau left San Jose to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with Toronto, and longtime running mate Joe Thornton re-signed with the Sharks for one year and $8 million.
Meanwhile, the back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals continued retooling by signing center Evgeny Kuznetsov for $62.4 million over eight years and trading forward Marcus Johansson to New Jersey for 2018 second- and thirdround picks.
Marleau and Thornton were in contact throughout their respective freeagent processes but made different decisions. Toronto’s addition of Marleau gives rookie of the year Auston Matthews an experienced goal-scorer on his left wing.
The soon-to-be 38-year-old spent his first 19 seasons in San Jose and called it “extremely difficult” to leave.
“I think I’ve worn out a few carpets pacing around the house trying to make this decision,” Marleau said. “The decision took me quite a while to come to, but I’ve made it and I’m happy with it.”
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs haven’t met in the playoffs since 1979. Moves made Sunday put them on a much more likely crash course in the next few years.
Price’s extension, which pays him $10.5 million a year from 2018-19 through 2025-26, solidifies the most important position in the sport long term in one of the league’s most fervent markets.
Price won the Hart Trophy as MVP and Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in 2014-15 and has the third-best save percentage of any active goaltender since entering the league in 2007-08.
“I never thought about putting on another uniform,” Price said. “I just thought it’d be too weird, I guess.”
It was weird to ever imagine Marleau wearing another uniform other than the Sharks, but he decided to leave San Jose and take a deal with Toronto that counts $6.25 million against the cap through 2019-20 and includes a full no-movement clause.
The signed center Evgeny Kuznetsov to a $62.4 million, eight-year deal and cleared space by trading forward Marcus Johansson to the Devils for 2018 second- and third-round picks.
The Capitals cleared about $4.58 million by trading Johansson.
“There’s a salary cap,” Devils GM Ray Shero said. “If there wasn’t, I’m sure Marcus would still be in Washington.”