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Carey Price hoping for new contract with Canadiens

Goaltender eligible to sign July 1, can become unrestricted free agent after 2017-18 season

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Price said Monday he would be open to discussing a new contract with the Canadiens and would prefer continuing his career with the team that selected him with the No. 5 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. 

General manager Marc Bergevin was more emphatic later in the day.

"Carey's obviously a main piece of our team," Bergevin said at his season-ending press conference. "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."

Video: Bobrovsky, Price, Holtby: Who will win the Vezina?

Price, who will turn 30 before the start of next season, has one year left on his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2018. He is eligible to sign a new contract July 1.

"Yeah, of course," Price said when asked if he would be open to starting negotiations on his next contract. "I love playing here. I'm sure we'll figure something out."

Price is entering the final season of a six-year, $39 million contract he signed July 2, 2012, according to CapFriendly.com. It was one of the first things Bergevin did after he was hired May 2, 2012. He seemed confident Monday that Price would arrive at training camp in September with a new contract signed.

"It's a possibility, a strong possibility," Bergevin said. "We have to make something work. I can't negotiate with him now."

The alternative would be to have Price enter the final season of his contract as an impending free agent, something Bergevin clearly did not want to see happen.

"We'll cross the bridge when we get there," he said, "but obviously it would be a big issue if he doesn't (sign)."

The thought of Price not signing a contract during the offseason could lead some to think the Canadiens should trade him before next season so they don't lose him for nothing. It would also allow Bergevin to fill what is a giant hole at the center position, especially since Bergevin said Monday that Alex Galchenyuk is likely to play on the wing next season.

Bergevin quickly put to rest the notion that Price might be traded in the offseason.

"I never talk about trades, but I'll tell you," Bergevin said. "No."

Price's next contract will determine what Bergevin can do to improve the Canadiens. With an average annual value of $6.5 million under his current contract, it could be said that Price has been a bargain over the past few seasons, having been one of the best players in the NHL.

Price went 37-20-5 with a 2.23 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and three shutouts in 62 games during the regular season and is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the top goalie in the NHL. He won the Vezina and Hart trophies in 2015. In 509 regular-season games over 10 seasons, Price is 270-175-55 with a 2.40 GAA, a .920 save percentage and 39 shutouts.

Price seemed to suggest he hoped his contract wouldn't cripple the Canadiens' ability to build around him.

"That's part of the business," he said. "That's a tough question to ask me right now. I want to stay here. I know we'll figure out a way to make all the pieces fit and bring a championship here."

Video: MTL@NYR, Gm6: Price makes stop on tricky redirect

Should Price get the raise he likely deserves, there is some question as to whether the Canadiens can win with so much money tied up at the goaltending position. Past history suggests, particularly in the salary-cap era, that having your best and highest paid player in goal is not a formula that leads to winning the Stanley Cup.

Could the Canadiens do it?

"I hope so," Bergevin said, "because he's not going anywhere."

A new contract for Price could also impact Montreal's primary impending unrestricted free agent this offseason. Forward Alexander Radulov signed a one-year contract with the Canadiens on July 1 after spending the previous eight seasons in the KHL, except for nine games with the Nashville Predators in 2011-12, and produced 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) in 76 games.

With the Canadiens lacking offensive talent, losing Radulov would be crippling.

Radulov expressed his desire to sign more of a long-term contract but admitted his desire to stay in Montreal is strong enough that he wouldn't be tempted to test the market if the right offer came from Bergevin.

"Things are going to be good if we're going to decide whatever's good for me and for the team here, so I don't think you have to wait for [July 1]," he said. "You can just take that offer. Because if it's everything good, why would you go and look for something better? There's no point."

Bergevin noted that Radulov is 31, so money and term will be areas where he will need to show some prudence.

"There's no doubt that's a player we want to bring back to Montreal," Bergevin said. "But we have limits to what we can do when it comes to money, when it comes to the cap, when it comes to term. He's a player who is 31 years old, he's not 26. There's no doubt we like him a lot, he brought a lot of positives to the organization. The players like him. There is no perfect player, but there is a lot we like about Alex. We want to keep him and we'll do everything possible to do that, but there are things we can't do as well."

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