About the contract extension for Greg Pateryn, what welcome news for Habs fans, and what a good move by the agent and the player. The rugged rookie defenceman seemed to have caught on with the Canadiens late in the season and during the playoffs. His steady game and physical style may have endeared him to Head Coach Michel Therrien and General Manager Marc Bergevin, both former defencemen themselves.
At 25 years old, Greg is a mature player, having played four seasons at Michigan under coach Red Berenson, and almost three full AHL seasons before his callup last spring. His first season as a Bulldog was marred by injury, but during the 2013-14 season he surprised observers with some offensive flair and a nice hard slapshot that helped him rack up 15 goals and 34 points.
Greg is also mature physically, he's a grown man at 6'2" and 220 lbs, a stature he's not afraid to use. He was reportedly asked to focus on his defensive play in his own zone and on a more physical style, which may have contributed to his diminished offensive production last season. Again though, the coaches seem to have liked what they saw, never mind the scoresheet.
While I don't necessarily expect or even want a Chris Pronger-level of aggression in all defencemen, it was nice to see Greg skate effectively and dish out hits liberally. And it was nice to see him sneer at huge Jimmy Hayes of the Panthers when the latter objected to a hard clean hit. We need a little more brass in our lineup, some strength and stoutness of character. Greg brings that.
With that in mind, Greg and his agent's decision to sign this extension is a masterstroke. They tack on another two years to their deal, which means he’s in the fold for three, with a modest raise from NHL minimum to a cap hit of $800 000 the next two seasons.
In his situation, as a fringe #6-7 defenceman, what he needs to do is play and work on his game, to improve, to solidify his status as an NHL’er. By making himself cost-effective, predictably so, he gives himself the greatest chance of being on the roster and getting these minutes, at an NHL wage.
He wasn’t going to have a great next season that would translate to a bigger contract, it’s not like he’s poised to score 14 goals and wow an arbitrator, so his opportunity cost, the trade-off for the stability is negligible.
But he’s set himself up to be a workhorse, a necessary cog, by the time he approaches UFA status, at which point he may be in a position to cash in.
The Canadiens meanwhile, when they envision and plan the roster for the coming seasons, can plug him in with some assurance, he’s signed for three seasons, a known quantity, they can see that as taken care of and figure out other issues.
So good work by all, the Canadiens retain a useful young defenceman on a cap-friendly deal for the next three seasons, and the player sets himself up as such an inexpensive option that he may make himself indispensable on the roster.