The Montreal Canadiens are all in on new acquisition Josh Anderson. While the Columbus Blue Jackets signed trade counterpart Max Domi for two years at a $5.3MM AAV, the Habs have inked Anderson to a whopping seven-year contract at a $5.5MM AAV. Montreal has announced a $38.5MM pact that will keep the newest addition under contract through the 2026-27 season.
The structure of Anderson’s contract is unique. There are no signing bonuses woven into the deal, with every cent being paid out in salary. However, the salary deviates significantly, to the league maximum in fact, with low salaries in the beginning and end of the deal to help the Canadiens with the current financial crisis as well as with a potential buyout down the road. The exact payout structure is as follows, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger:
Year 1: $4MM
Year 2: $4MMM
Year 3: $7MM
Year 4: $8MM
Year 5: $7MM
Year 6: $5MM
Year 7: $3.5MM
The contract also carries some limited trade protection, per CapFriendly. In years two to four of the deal, Anderson has an eight-team no-trade list. In years five to seven, that protection shrinks to just a five-team no-trade list. It is notable that Anderson does not possess trade protection in his first year, so if things go south right away the Canadiens could move the winger to any interested team.
While any long-term deal carries some risk, this is an especially precarious pact. Anderson played just 26 games this past season with Columbus, missing much of the season due to injury. While there are no concerns remaining in regard to that injury, his durability will be in question until he can prove that his injury issues are behind him. Perhaps even more concerning is his play when he was on the ice for the Blue Jackets; Anderson recorded just four points and his shooting percentage came in under 2%. Of course, the season prior Anderson did total a career-high 27 goals and 47 points. However, it was his only season with over 20 goals or 30 points in his six-year NHL career. At $5.5MM annually, Montreal is expecting at least 20+ goals and 40+ points in each of the next seven years. They are hoping that 2018-19 Anderson is the real Anderson; if it’s not the team could be in trouble.
With all that said, Canadiens fans should take at least some solace in the fact that the team is so comfortable with their acquisition of Anderson that they were willing to hand out a massive long-term deal before he even donned their jersey. If anything, this contract shows that Montreal is going to give Anderson a major role and expects the big winger to be a core piece for years to come.