The Montreal Canadiens are placing a huge bet on Josh Anderson.
The team announced on Thursday evening that it has re-signed the recently acquired forward to an absolutely massive seven-year contract worth a total of $38.5 million. That comes out to a salary cap hit of $5.5 million per season.
It also reportedly contains a limited no-trade clause.
Montreal acquired Anderson earlier this week from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Max Domi. Both players were restricted free agents at the time of the trade. Domi re-signed with Columbus on a two-year deal worth $5.3 million per season just one day later.
While the salary cap hits are very similar, the Anderson deal is downright shocking due to the term.
Seven years is always a significant risk for any player that isn’t a superstar, and even for them it can be risky depending on their age.
This contract takes that risk to an entirely new level given all of the circumstances around Anderson.
For one, the Canadiens are rolling the dice that his shoulder is completely healthy. He was limited to just 26 games during the 2019-20 season (scoring just a single goal) while he plays a pretty physical game that may not age well.
Then there is the question of just how good Anderson actually is and if he is the kind of player you need to sign for this long.
He is 26 years old, has topped 40 points in a season just one time (career of 47), and is not really a player that drives possession. When healthy he is a decent enough power forward, but recent NHL history is full of long-term contracts like this that either end in a buyout or a salary dump trade that has the team giving up assets just to get rid of the contract.
The Canadiens now have a fascinating collection of long-term contracts on their roster as Anderson, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber, and Carey Price are all signed through at least the end of the of the 2024-25 season (Weber and Price go beyond), while Joel Edmundson goes through the end of the 2023-24 season. All of those players are either in their 30s right now, or will be well into their 30s when their contracts end.