With Montreal sufffering a first round exit in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, do you think that the end of the Carey Price Era in Montreal is is about to end? Price is set to become a free agent after the 2017-18 season and he will be one of the top five players that will be a free agent that summer. The questions are already being asked to the former Hart Memorial winner if next season will be his last in Montreal. The Canadiens were the number one seed in the Atlantic Division and lost their first round matchup to the WC1 (Wild Card 1) New York Rangers in six games.
With only one season left under his current contract, Montreal is going to have to find Price some help as their offense was non-existent in their first round matchup. The Canadiens have some serious work to do this summer if they want to be able to convince Carey Price to stay in Montreal. It will be hard for him to stay if Montreal does not have a realistic shot of making it to the Stanley Cup Finals within the next few years. Price and GM Marc Bergevin have both said they want Price to stay in Montreal, but we can't be sure of that until a new contract is signed.
The Canadiens have not won a Stanley Cup since the 1992-93 season, and they have seriously struggled in the playoffs ever since. It is one thing to dominate in the regular season, but if you struggle come playoff time you will not be able to do two things (attract free agents and get guys who will want to come back).
A key part in deciding where Price MAY want to play is where the team stands as far as contenders and/or how much salary cap space they're projected to have by the 2018 offseason. Price is going to command a high salary and will likely be the highest paid goaltender in the game, so only teams that could match that demand are being considered to possibly land his services.
With that being said here are eight teams that Carey Price might want to play for in 2018 and seven that he won’t.
18 Might – Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have one of the strongest cases to potentially sign Carey Price. Philadelphia still will have Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmons, Jakub Voracek, and nine other players under contract and they have some talent that could draw the attention of Carey Price. Even better news for the Flyers is that they have no goalies that will be under contract for the 2018-19 season. Claude Giroux and Carey Price have also played for Team Canada together which could also lead to some huge interest in Price wanting to play in Philadelphia.
Also, their $24.5 million in cap space can help them throw some money Price’s way which could lead to him improving the Flyers and bring them back to not only the post season, but to potential Stanley Cup Contenders as well. Yes, signing Ilya Bryzgalov was a disaster, but Price has proven he's not a flash in the pan goaltender. The Flyers could end a generational need of goaltending by signing Price.
16 Won’t – Buffalo Sabres
With Jack Eichel not being signed after next season, it is tough to see Buffalo having any realistic chance at bringing in a quality goaltending talent like Carey Price. Buffalo for starters is definitely not a top location for any marquee free agents to sign with, and definitely has not been a good hockey team over the past six seasons. Even with over $38.2 million in cap space for 2018, I do not see the Sabres as a threat to even be in talks with Carey Price. Plus, Buffalo has not made the playoffs since the 2009-10 season. The Sabres do not have anywhere close to the talent that Carey Price has in Montreal right now, so you definitely won’t see him in Buffalo as the home team’s goaltender.
15 Might – Vancouver Canucks
I know what you are thinking, why would Carey Price ever think of going to the Canucks, a team seemingly going nowhere? Well, by the summer of 2018, the Canucks will have the Sedin Twins off the books, which will leave them plenty of cap space to land a big fish like Price. Plus, you can never discount a free agent's hometown when it comes to potential signings. Price grew up in Anaheim Lake, BC and likes to spend offseasons back home, so there will always be that temptation of going home.
By 2018, the Canucks will have to make some big changes if they want to convince Price they can contend, but you can be sure they'll do all they can to make it happen.
14 Won’t – Florida Panthers
Florida has been one of the weirdest teams over the past two seasons, as they came out of nowhere to make the playoffs in 2015-16 for the first time since the 2011-12 season, but then this year they struggled and were not the same team as they were from the year before. They do have some talented guys that will still currently be under contract, but they already have two goalies locked up in Roberto Luongo and James Reimer. Florida also has a projected $19 million in cap space for 2018 and they will have to focus on other positions in order to try and become successful and go back into the playoffs. The Panthers already look to have their goalies locked so there is no point of even attempting to try and get Carey Price.
13 Might – Calgary Flames
With exactly $33 million in cap space next July, Calgary seems like an interesting fit for Carey Price. While the Flames have Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, to go along with a solid defensive core which could help lead Carey Price to potentially debate a chance of going to Calgary. With the Flames having some post season experience under their belts could be a big help to acquire some marquee talents that could help them take the next step to get back into the playoffs. The Flames’ biggest need is definitely goaltending, as they have had their ups and downs, but they haven’t been good enough to help bring Calgary back to the promise land.
Carey Price could definitely be a big-time upgrade for a team who made the playoffs only to get swept by the Anaheim Ducks. Look for the Flames to potentially be in the mix for a shot at Price. Don't forget that Price sees himself as a cowboy! That's gotta count for something when considering Calgary.
12 Won’t – Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets already have their franchise goalie in Seregi Bobrovsky and he is currently a finalist for the Hart Trophy. Plus, Columbus has a total of 13 players that are currently under contract, and they already have some big-time players that are under contract. They are already a playoff caliber team, and have the potential to be a real threat in the next two years.
When they first started as a franchise, Columbus did not have any sort of direction, and now they are considered a quality team. It is crazy how things work, but Carey Price will not be taking his talents to Columbus, even with their projected $22.9 million in cap space. Sergei Bobrovsky is heading into a contract year as well in Columbus, and odds are, the Jackets will re-sign him at some point this summer.
10 Might – Nashville Predators
This seems crazy to think of right now, as Pekka Rinne has had an amazing 2017 postseason, but the Preds have shown they're not afraid to be bold. Rinne has been the man for a long time in Nashville, but by next summer, he'll be on the last year of his contract and he'll be over 35. Rather than attempt to sign Rinne to a long-term extension, perhaps GM David Poile secures his team's future by signing a younger Price to an extension and putting him behind a blue line featuring Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm. There's a lot of moving parts to be done before the Preds could think about landing Price, but you have to think with Price's affinity for country music and the security that blue line provides, he'd be tempted if the Preds came calling.
9 Won’t – Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg has a projected $43.1 million in cap space, so how could they not be considered a potential landing spot for Carey Price? With the young talent that they have signed through 2018 how could Carey Price not want to play in Winnipeg? Well around the league Winnipeg is the second highest on most players' no movement lists, which doesn’t make it a good spot for Carey Price to potentially go.
The simple fact is it's hard for the Jets to attract marquee free agents. The need is clearly there in goal for Winnipeg, and none of their current NHL goalies are under contract after the 2017-18 season, but unless Winnipeg gives Price the richest contract in NHL history, there's no way Price is going there.
8 Might – Anaheim Ducks
Carey Price as an Anaheim Duck; doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? This could potentially happen only if they truly believe that John Gibson is not the guy that can help carry them to the Stanley Cup. Price plays on Team Canada with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and they could be a big factor in being able to persuade some high talented free agents to join them for the 2018-19 season.
With Anaheim having $25.1 million in cap space next summer it could help Anaheim make a push to be able to be able to sign Carey Price if he hits the market. The team offers a Stanley Cup contender, a great climate and gets Price away from the pressure cooker environment he's in now. The Ducks have all the potential to make a big-time splash on the 2018 free agent market, but it will all come down to which direction that they want to go in to succeed.
7 Won’t – Washington Capitals
Doesn’t the thought of playing with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom sound like a great idea? It does until you add to the fact that Washington already has their franchise goaltender in Braden Holtby. Yes, Washington has $34.8 million in cap space for 2018, but that's because they're set to lose some key players this summer like T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and potentially Karl Alzner.
It does not look like Carey Price will be the answer that the Capitals need to take the next step. They owe Ovechkin $9.5 million, Backstrom $6.7 million, and Holtby $6.1 million, which makes it hard for them to be able to acquire some marquee talent that will help Ovechkin and Backstrom be able to take the Capitals to not only the Eastern Conference Finals, but to the Stanley Cup Finals as well. There is no shot that Price will be wearing a Capitals jersey in his foreseeable future.
6 Might – Tampa Bay Lightning
This sounds like a win/win scenario for both Carey Price and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yes, the Lightning have goalie Andrei Vasilveskiy under contract in 2018, but is he really the answer that Tampa Bay needs to help bring them back into the postseason? I don’t think so and I see both Price and the Lightning having mutual interest in each other. The thought of being a goaltender and having talent like Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, and many others playing in front of you sounds like a match made in heaven. The Lightning have many contracts to think about before the 2018 summer, but Steve Yzerman has been able to get players to sign below market value before.
With Tampa Bay having the talent they have, Carey Price could have a realistic shot of winning a Stanley Cup. The Lightning have been to the Stanley Cup Finals recently, and they know what it takes to get there. This could be a huge reason why Price could leave Montreal to sign with another Atlantic Division member.
5 Won’t – New York Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist has something to say about the Rangers even thinking about signing Carey Price. Hank “the tank” is signed through the 2020-21 season and is owed $8.5 million every year which definitely means that the Rangers will not be interested in signing a goaltender. Even if the Rangers were interested I don’t believe that the two would have mutual interest in the slightest bit. The Rangers wouldn’t want to go from one 10 plus year veteran to another 10 plus year veteran.
The goalie that the Rangers will look to replace Lundqvist with when he does decide to retire will be someone young so that they can have that goalie for a long period of time and not have to worry about getting another one for multiple years. Even with the Rangers having $31.4 million in projected cap space next summer, there is absolutely zero chance that the Rangers and Carey Price strike a deal.
4 Might – Dallas Stars
With the Stars having a projected $42.1 million in cap space in 2018, I feel strongly that Carey Price signing with Dallas is a high possibility. Yes, the team just traded for the rights to Ben Bishop, but Bishop could easily flop in Dallas next year and GM Jim Nill could really secure his goaltending once and for all by landing Price.
Looking at the numbers and the potential on how good the Stars can be in the next two years is unbelievable. Price’s team Canada teammates Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn currently are under contract in Dallas, and they have the cap space to be able to sign some quality talent to be able to put in front of Carey Price. Look for the Stars to sign some high-quality talent and be able to give Carey Price a great deal, that can help persuade Price to play in Dallas. I can see the headline now stating “Carey Price is taking his talents to Big D”.
2 Won’t – Boston Bruins
The rival of the Montreal Canadiens leads the list of teams that Carey Price definitely will not play for in 2018-19. Even with the $21.6 million in cap space, there is no realistic shot that the Bruins get an opportunity to sign Carey Price. They already have their core locked in under contract (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci) and have some talented guys/young guys that will be on the team in 2018. Also, the Bruins as of right now have their franchise goalie in Tuukka Rask, and he is getting paid $7 million per season.
The Bruins need help on the defensive side of their team, but they mainly need defensemen, not goaltending. Carey Price could be a big-time player for whoever signs him, but after ten plus seasons, there is no chance that he signs with Boston. If he does leave Montreal, he'll have enough respect for the franchise not to sign with the enemy.
1 Might – Montreal Canadiens
At the end of the day, all the writing on the wall points to the Canadiens reaching a long-term extension with Carey Price. Unless something goes completely out of the ordinary Carey Price will most likely return to Montreal. One thing that is Montreal’s favor is at the moment they will have $42.4 million roughly in cap space for 2018, so they could sign Price to an extension this summer and figure out the rest next year.
Unfortunately, for Montreal they have played significantly well in the regular season, but come playoff time they tend to disappear. The Canadiens had eleven goals in their six game first round series with the New York Rangers and did not get consistent play from their top guys’ up front. In the back of Price’s mind, he has to be thinking about that and saying to himself 'do I stay loyal to my team who has not helped me in crunch time, or do I try my luck somewhere else?'
Price has time to contemplate staying in Montreal, but Montreal has put some guys in front of him who can come up huge in crunch time.