Elias Pettersson has been outstanding to start the 2023-24 season, leading the NHL in scoring with 25 points in 15 games.
On the ice, it has been stupendous to see Pettersson pile up the points. Off the ice, you have to wonder if the Vancouver Canucks are wondering how much they'll have to open up their wallets for his next contract.
Pettersson is a pending restricted free agent, which means the Canucks hold his exclusive negotiating rights. The Canucks could conceivably wait until after the season to re-sign Pettersson but they understandably would like to get their franchise forward signed before then.
General manager Patrik Allvin confirmed as much to the Daily Faceoff after the NHL's general manager meeting in Toronto on Tuesday, saying that he has met with both Pettersson's North American and Swedish agents.
“I’ve had conversations with Pat Brisson and I met with his Swedish agent a couple weeks ago when he was in town,” said Allvin. “We’re continuing to talk there and see where things go. Hopefully, we’ll get it done sooner rather than later.”
Brisson simply said, "We continue to have conversations, but I prefer to keep things on the low-key for now," to the Daily Faceoff in a text message.
Pettersson himself has said he's in no hurry to get a new deal done, preferring instead to focus on playing hockey and getting off to a strong start. That focus seems to have paid off.
"I'm not in a rush to sign," said Pettersson to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman in the summer. "I've got one more year left over there and I don't want to rush into anything because I still don't know myself if it's going to be a short-term or long-term [contract], but it's going to be probably my biggest contract so far. So, I don't want to stress anything."
There might have been some uncertainty in Pettersson's mind if he wanted to stay in Vancouver long-term, which makes sense given that he's seen the playoffs just once in his five seasons with the Canucks. The team's hot start may have paved over some of those concerns, as the Canucks suddenly look like one of the top teams in the NHL.
"The fans here are loud," said Pettersson after a game last week. "It's fun to play here now."
When Pettersson does sign an extension, it's almost certainly to be the biggest contract in Canucks history.
The previous record was held by Roberto Luongo and his 12-year, $64 million contract — the one that led to him saying, "My contract sucks," a few years later. That contract only had a cap hit of $5.33 million because of its supposedly cap-circumventing structure. Pettersson's cap hit will be much higher.
The Canucks will likely be looking for the maximum eight years for the length of the contract and the cap hit is likely to be upwards of $10 million and potentially in the same range as the Auston Matthews and Artemi Panarin, who each have a cap hit of around $11.6 million.
That number won't be getting any lower if Pettersson wins the Art Ross Trophy this season as the league's leading scorer.