Sunday, January 1, 2012

Habs Sign Josh Gorges to 6-year Extension

The Montreal Canadiens today announced the signing of defenseman Josh Gorges to a 6-year contract extension. The deal will pay him an average of $3.9M per season.

Gorges, 27, could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. General Manager Pierre Gauthier wasted no time getting this deal done, making the announcement on the first day it was possible to do so (January 1st). This is a great move to lock in an important part of the team's future. The team must make decisions on other UFAs Andrei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill, and Travis Moen in the coming months. Two important RFA dockets are on Gauthier's table as well, with Carey Price and P.K. Subban's contracts ending after the season.

The Habs chose to play it "safe" with Gorges last summer, offering him only a one-year deal as he was returning from major knee surgery. Certainly, the team could have signed him for less had they offered him a multi-year contract back then (perhaps in the neighborhood of $3M-$3.25M). But he has been the team's top blueliner since game one this year and is a valuable leader in the dressing room, earning him this long-term extension.

Gorges was never drafted, but signed as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks. The Habs acquired him during the 2006-07 season along with a first round draft pick that turned into Max Pacioretty in return for defenseman Craig Rivet.

One big positive to the signing is it puts to rest a concern that I and others share, being that the team's struggles this season might discourage the core players the team MUST hold on to from staying in Montreal. With Gorges staying long-term, hopefully the likes of Price, Subban, and Pacioretty won't get too discouraged the media pressures and on and off-ice issues currently plaguing the organization.

Gorges is primarily a defensive defenseman, but with 10 points in 39 games this season, he is on pace to finish near his career high of 23, set with Montreal in 2008-09. For a defense-first player, some Habs fans may find the $3.9M number high, but if you look around the league, it's actually pretty solid value for the Canadiens. Some comparables:

Brayden Coburn, Philadelphia, 4 years, $4.5M per year
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay, 5 years, $4M per year
Nick Schultz, Minnesota, 6 years, $3.5M per year (signed in 2008)
Cory Sarich, Calgary, 5 years, $3.6M per year (signed in 2007)

No comments: