Well, that's not a bad way to start the season.
The Montreal Canadiens opened their 2021-22 campaign with a bang on Tuesday morning, agreeing to terms with centre Nick Suzuki on an eight-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $7.85 million. The deal will kick in at the start of the 2022-23 season, as Suzuki still has one year remaining on his Entry-Level Contract at $863,333.
The details of the deal, such as its salary structure or trade protection, have yet to be determined.
Let's be honest, here. Is Suzuki worth nearly $8 million per year at the moment? Of course not.
The 22-year-old hasn't even flirted with a 20-goal campaign yet throughout the two seasons and 127 games of NHL experience he has under his belt to this point, struggling mightily in the faceoff dot and still succumbing to stretches of inconsistent play. But that's not the point. Suzuki is a young, skilled, and surprisingly adept two-way centre playing for a franchise that has lacked depth up the middle for years and just watched its best shutdown centre walk out the door in free agency.
Simply: the Habs need Suzuki. And by locking him in for the long haul now, Marc Bergevin clearly believes that his young pivot will quickly match the value of his paycheck in the eight years to come, and, near the end of it, hopefully, surpass it.
It's a good bet to make, frankly.
Suzuki continued his upward trajectory as a sophomore in 2021, matching the 41 points he put up as a rookie in 15 fewer games, all while logging over 18 minutes per night on a team that went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Now arguably the Canadiens' number one centre, Suzuki will be in for quite the increased workload this season. And with more ice time, likely, comes more production. At least, that's what management is betting on.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Suzuki is set to stay in Montreal for the next nine years. Suffice it to say, it's likely safe for him to buy a house in the area now.