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Canucks re-sign Elias Pettersson to eight-year, $92.8 million contract

Pettersson's new contract with the Canucks carries a cap hit of $11.6 million.
Elias Pettersson just signed the richest contract in Vancouver Canucks history.

At 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Vancouver Canucks announced what could be the most important contract in franchise history.

There had been endless speculation in the Vancouver market about Elias Pettersson's future. Did the 25-year-old want to stay with the Canucks? Would he force a trade the same way Mattew Tkachuk did from the Calgary Flames? If he did re-sign with the Canucks, would his cap hit balloon over $12 million to compete with the most expensive cap hits in the NHL?

On Saturday morning, Pettersson and the Canucks answered all of those questions. The Canucks re-signed Pettersson to an eight-year deal — the maximum length for a contract re-signing — with an average annual value of $11.6 million. That makes it a $92.8 million contract, the biggest in Canucks history by a wide margin, dwarfing Roberto Luongo's 12-year, $64 million contract signed in 2009.

Despite being the biggest contract in Canucks history, there's a strong argument to be made that Pettersson's new contract is a hometown discount. Reports suggested that Pettersson's camp was seeking something closer to $12.5 million, in the range of the biggest cap hits in the NHL belonging to Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid.

Pettersson is coming off a 39-goal, 102-point season and could become the first Swede in NHL history to post back-to-back 100+ point seasons. He's currently 10th in the NHL in scoring with 29 goals and 75 points in 62 games. With his well-rounded two-way game, Pettersson's overall impact on the game places him in the upper echelon of the league. It's not crazy to think that this contract could be a bargain in the coming years, particularly as the salary cap is expected to go up significantly. 

The contract is heavily frontloaded, with the majority of the money coming in the first four years of the deal, including $12 and $10 million signing bonuses in the first two years. It also includes a full no-movement clause that kicks in for the 2025-26 season, the first year that Pettersson would have become an unrestricted free agent.

The contract signing comes after a week of rumours and speculation fueled by a report that teams had inquired about Pettersson's potential availability in a trade. While Pettersson had said he wanted to wait until the end of the season to negotiate a contract to avoid it becoming a distraction, it seemed like not signing a deal had instead become the distraction.

"I always wanted to stay here but you don't give up your cards in negotiations," said Pettersson with a chuckle when asked why he changed his mind about negotiating during the season. "I was an RFA at the end of the season and I didn't feel the rush to sign but then again, the more talks with Jim [Rutherford] and Patrik [Allvin], seeing the direction of the team — I was going to stay here but seeing the commitment from them and everything, we wanted to get it done before."

As the noise grew to a fever pitch — including a report that the Canucks had a potential deal on the table with the Carolina Hurricanes — it was inevitable that it got back to Pettersson.

"I didn't hear anything," said Pettersson, keeping a straight face as long as possible before breaking into a laugh. "No, of course, there's been a lot of talk throughout the year — always, people talk — but I was fine. There's always going to be noise but I felt comfortable because we continued having talks throughout the whole year with management, with my agents."

But did the contract negotiations and all the noise affect Pettersson, whose play has slipped in recent games?

"Of course, I'm human," said Pettersson. "I put pressure on me and what's ahead but I knew what I was getting myself into and I knew it was going to be a big decision. That's why I wanted to wait to make sure I made the right decision for my life, personally. I am super happy with that."

The new contract ends the speculation that Pettersson wanted to leave Vancouver, a city he says "always felt like home" and that he praised as a city that "bleeds hockey" and is "very similar to Sweden in some ways." 

"I'm super excited. This is where I wanted to be," said Pettersson. "I always wanted to play for a good team and I wanted to see where this team was heading. Ever since Jim and Patrik coming in — obviously, getting to know them and see the direction that we're going in as an organization — I liked everything I've seen."