Cheap Domi extension makes Galchenyuk trade easier for Habs to defend

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If Hockey Twitter felt like too much of an “echo chamber” after the Arizona Coyotes landed Alex Galchenyuk from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for Max Domi, consider that PHT readers also heartily believe that Arizona got the best end of the deal.

As of this writing, it isn’t even close.

Arizona’s already collected more than 1,000 votes; Montreal hasn’t hit 100 yet. Yeah.

Ouch.

Now, to be fair, that poll didn’t consider scale. The consensus is that the Coyotes won this trade, but the future can sand off some of the hard edges from this move in a few ways.

Part of it comes down to Max Domi playing better. Some of his scoring woes come down to poor shooting luck, yet there’s growing concern that he may simply struggle to score at the NHL level. He also doesn’t change anything about Montreal’s issues down the middle.

One other factor: Domi’s freshly signed contract extension. The Canadiens announced today that the 23-year-old signed a two-year deal that carries a cap hit of $3.15 million. If Domi and Galchenyuk end up producing at similar levels, there are two points in Montreal’s favor thanks to this extension.

  • Domi is considerably cheaper, as Galchenyuk’s deal carries a $4.9M cap hit. (Both expire after 2019-20.)
  • After Domi’s deal expires, he’d be an RFA. Galchenyuk, meanwhile, would be slated for unrestricted free agency. So it’s plausible that Domi’s next contract will be more affordable, too.

A fair take is that the Domi – Galchenyuk trade sums up Marc Bergevin’s time as Montreal GM, but this morning’s announcement actually provides a fuller picture.

Because, as lousy as Bergevin has been at making winning trades, he’s managed to leverage RFA rights and other situations to gain some bargain contracts. (Granted, I’d argue that he went too far and thus soured the organization’s relationship with P.K. Subban in 2013, but that’s a debate for another day.)

While Carey Price‘s $10.5M looks terrifying considering the goalie’s recent health/consistency issues, Bergevin grabbed some nice value earlier in players’ careers. Galchenyuk stands as an example, actually.

  • Despite the comical heat Max Pacioretty absorbs at times in Montreal, he’s entering the final season of a six-year deal that carries just a $4.5M cap hit. You can rank that among the best steals outside of entry-level contracts.
  • Brendan Gallagher is only halfway through his own cheap six-year deal. His $3.75M cap hit runs through 2020-21.
  • There may come a point when Jonathan Drouin‘s $5.5M cap hit looks a lot better than it does today. He’s gifted and only 23 years old, so if the narrative shifts away from the negatives (not being “the answer” at center, Mikhail Sergachev possibly being the better player), Montreal landed talent at a reasonable rate.

Honestly, the main gripe about Domi’s contract is that it would have been far more exciting if it carried more term.

If the speedy winger ends up exceeding expectations, Montreal will need to reward him fairly quickly. That mitigates some of the positives from “buying low” from a cap hit perspective.

Still, there’s a chance that Domi’s reasonable price will change the way people look at this trade in months or years.

(My guess is that the Coyotes still come out the winners, though.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.