LAS VEGAS -- The elephant in the room hasn't yet found the exit sign, so Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price knew the topic would be raised.
As of July 1, Price will be free to begin talks to extend his contract, which upon expiration on July 1, 2018, would send him into unrestricted free agency.
Price, 29, has one season remaining on a six-year, $39 million contract he signed in 2012, with an NHL salary-cap charge of $6.5 million, according to CapFriendly.com.
Just the thought of the franchise goalie leaving his only NHL team after a decade playing in Montreal gives chills to many Canadiens fans. In his most recent talk with the media in April, following Montreal's elimination by the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round, Price said he was eager to remain a Canadien.
On Tuesday, Price pretty much rewound that tape and hit the play button once more.
"It's kind of a big deal, financially, but I'm not really that concerned about it," he said, here as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender, with the winner announced during the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN).
"It's going to be a process. I know that. Maybe it won't happen July 1, but like I said, I'm not worried about it. I said it at the end of the year: We'll figure it out. A lot of teams find ways to pay their best players a fair amount, so I'm sure we'll be able to figure it out."
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That's the goal of Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, based on his comments at his own season-ending press conference.
"Carey's obviously a main piece of our team," Bergevin said then. "My intention and Carey's intention, I'm convinced, is to stay in Montreal. We will do everything possible to keep him here in Montreal, probably for the rest of his career."
Price hasn't been thinking much about hockey at all since he packed his gear to split his offseason between Kelowna, British Columbia, and Kennewick, Washington, the latter the hometown of his wife, Angela.
"I'm just enjoying some time off, kind of recouping, starting to get back into things now," he said.
Price said he likes the Canadiens' acquisition of forward Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning last Thursday.
"We're making a lot of good moves right now," Price said. "When you start seeing pieces put together, it makes you hungry to come back and get back into it. [Drouin] is a very good player; I'm excited to see how he fits in with our club. … You never really know how pieces are going to fit until the machine starts working.
"He's got a lot of talent, obviously. His play over the last couple of years really speaks for itself, how he's come back in and put the numbers up. He's got a lot of skill and hopefully he puts the puck in the net for us."
The other side of the addition is the subtraction of defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, a friend of Price who was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
Video: Possibilities on Carey Price's future in NHL
"It [stinks]," he said of a buddy changing teams. "I've gone through this so many times, I've seen so many players come and go. I hope he gets a great opportunity to play there. He has a lot of talent. Hopefully he fits into that system well. It's tough to see guys, go but at the same time there always seems to be moving parts in today's game."
Traditionally, Price goes underground after hockey season, embracing his love of the great outdoors. This season began for him with the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in September, and he now totes his 13-month-old daughter, Liv, in a backpack on nature hikes.
"When hockey's done, I like to turn off the TV and I don't even really pay much attention to the playoffs until the Final," he said.
Not that Price paid the playoffs much due this spring. He said he didn't watch a single game of the six-game Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, only finding game scores later.
"I watched maybe 10 minutes of the whole Final," he said. "It's too hard for me to watch other guys do what I want to be doing."