The Pettersson Extention, How the Canucks Got Here and Where They Go

By: Brayden Fengler / March 6, 2024  

Christmas came early for Canucks fans… very early. Just as recently as last month, it looked like star forward Elias Pettersson’s next contract would not be resolved until the off-season. Whether that contract would or would not be with the Canucks seemed to be up in the air as well.

However, all of that anticipated anxiety was wiped off of Canucks’ fans calendars last week. On March 2nd, Pettersson and the Canucks agreed to a massive eight-year $11.6m AAV contract.

The Road to Pettersson’s Current Deal

If not signed to a new deal this season, Pettersson was set to become a restricted free agent. Pettersson’s current deal was inked by Jim Benning and Co. back in October of 2021. As math would indicate, this deal made back in 2021 was only a three-year deal.

Sharing the same representatives, Petey signed his last deal at the same time as now Canucks captain Quinn Hughes signed his. However, Quinn’s deal was twice as long as Petey’s, and will not run out until the end of the 2026-27 season.

There is no question that the Canucks’ should’ve signed Petey to a max deal back in 2021. Players like Pettersson only become more expensive over time. While former Canucks management can be criticized for a number of things until the cows come home, including this deal, even ignoring the cap constraints of the 2021 season, the term was not exclusively up to them.

Petterson was a major component to the term being three years. No player signs a deal with that short of term at the age of 21 unless they believe in themselves. A player that signs off on that kind of deal has to believe their value will increase and that they will be positioned to earn more when the short-term contract is up.

As history has shown us, Pettersson bet correctly, a bet that he likely never second-guessed after making. Not only did it allow him to put his money where his mouth is and increase his value as a player, it kept the door open for him to reevaluate what type of team the Canucks would be when his contract was up.

No Talks During The Season

It was widely and continually reported for most of this season and even earlier in the summer that Pettersson did not wish to discuss his next contract until after this season was over.

All of last off-season and during this season, whenever the topic was brought up, Pettersson did not seem to budge on the fact that he wanted to focus on the season at hand and leave the money talk for the warmer months.

Meanwhile, the signing remained a priority for Canucks management, who were open to talk at any time. The stakes, at least initially, did not feel that high surrounding getting the contract done quickly due to Vancouver’s overall year-over-year improvement on the ice.

The better Vancouver performed, the more it looked like this was a team anyone would kill to play for, so fans, and likely management, were not urging Petey to the table.

The Rumours

However, hockey is not hockey without a rumour mill that works overtime. As the spotlight on Vancouver got brighter due to their impressive season, so too did the spotlight on their unsigned star.

The rumour that got the most attention came back in December from the Spittin’ Chicklets podcast, specifically from Matt Murley. Murley hypothesized that it was a real possibility, based on what he knew, that Pettersson may end up in Chicago next year.

Just over two months later, this take has now aged like fine milk.

Although there were certainly a lot of people who elected not to read too far into this rumour from the start, like it or not, it didn’t come from some Joe Shmo, good-for-nothing hockey blog with no readers *looks in the mirror, evaluates life*. It came from a source and a company known to have significant and direct ties to the industry.

To put even more credit on Spittin’ Chicklets, although it was not the same personality, the show did break the massive Mike Babcock, players phones story just before this season kicked off.

This is all to say that yes, this rumour had all the hallmarks of being just a rumour. But whether Canucks fans would’ve liked to admit it or not, the semi-respectable place that it came from was a little different than your standard Reddit rumour.

Change at the Speed of a Hurricane

Fast forward to last week, and things surrounding Pettersson seemingly changed on a dime. What was once a player who wanted to wait out the season, was suddenly now open to talking, and reportedly all of this came from Carolina’s interest in Pettersson.

There is no doubt that NHL teams have been blowing up Allvin and Rutherford’s phone all season with “you up?” texts, trying to see what they could maybe do about this Pettersson guy. But something about the timing or the scope of Carolina’s recent offer was enough for the Canucks to bring Pettersson to the table.

Done Deal

Only one day after the Carolina trade news broke did Pettersson and his camp sign with the Canucks. And it wasn’t just for three years or four years. It was for a maximum of eight years, coming in at a total value of $92.8m throughout the contract, including yearly bonuses.

There is no more significant and timely comparable to a deal of this nature than the recent William Nylander deal with Toronto. Nylander’s final contract figure comes in at $92m even and is also an eight-year term.

Currently, during the two players’ contract years, they are 11th and 6th in the overall NHL points race respectively. With Pettersson being 11th and Nylander in the sixth spot. Nylander has edged out Pettersson with 8 more points, but overall the difference in production is minimal.

It’s splitting hairs, as the fact of the matter is both players are immensely valuable to their teams and both players not only got paid with a capital “P”, but their term has committed them to their respective teams for years to come.

When Pettersson is at the end of this contract, he will be 34 years old. To put this into perspective using a player already on the Canucks, J.T. Miller will be 36 years old when he is at the end of his deal.

Miller’s deal has an $8m AAV, so yes his slice of the pie is smaller than Petey’s but he will also be two years older at the end of his massive contract. Once an NHL player starts approaching their mid-30s, every year begins to matter as not every NHL player at those ages can keep up the pace of their performance for the remaining duration of their contract.

What may look to the harshest of skeptics like a big price tag now for Pettersson, is no more or less a bet on the player than they’ve already taken on Miller.

As the years go by and the cap goes up, this deal will only look better as Pettersson remains an insanely talented player. It was also suspected that Pettersson would end up costing the Canucks closer to an even $12m a year, so really they’re making money!

At the end of the day you really can’t overpay for a player like Pettersson, if the Canucks didn’t give him what he wanted, he would’ve gone somewhere else. If Pettersson didn’t want to play in Vancouver, a trade possibility wouldn’t have brought him to the table.

The Canucks wanted him and Pettersson wanted to be a Canuck, both sides were transparent and smart about their options. Although Pettersson could’ve maybe held out for a $12m AAV if he kept waiting, the risk was no longer worth the reward. Because Vancouver is his home and will remain that way for years and years to come.