Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrick Allvin spoke with Patrick Johnston of The Province today and said he is very optimist that the team can get a long-term deal done with Elias Pettersson. The Swedish center has one more year left on his bridge contract at a cap hit of $7.35MM and will be in line for a big raise when he becomes a restricted free agent in 2024.
Much like Alex DeBrincat, Pettersson’s contract is back loaded, meaning that Vancouver will need to qualify him at a number just shy of $9MM. Pettersson could take the one-year deal and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2025 at the age of 26. Should the former fifth overall pick elect to do that, he would have no shortage of suitors.
Pettersson was a horse this season as he averaged of 20 minutes of ice time per game. He is coming off a career year that saw him post 39 goals and 63 assists in 80 games. His powerplay goals dropped dramatically this season as he scored just six times with the extra man, but what is truly impressive was that he put up 68 points at even strength, which tied him for sixth in the entire NHL behind the likes of Nathan McKinnon and Connor McDavid. These numbers put Pettersson in elite company and will have him looking for a long-term deal with an eight-figure average annual value.
The Canucks may be optimistic about signing their superstar center, but their short-term cap situation would give anyone pause. The club has struggled to commit to a specific direction over the last year and appear to be spinning their wheels. They have a lot of long-term contracts with players that are producing well below their cap hits, which could make it difficult to improve the on-ice product and entice Pettersson to stay. Jim Rutherford, Allvin and company seemed committed to a rebuild when they were first hired over a year ago, but appeared to change course when they narrowly missed the playoffs in 2022. They have been unable to shed any of the bloated contracts handed out by the previous management group and have further added to them with the extension to J.T. Miller. Their direction over the next 12 months will be interesting to observe as they appear set to retool rather than teardown and rebuild.