Canadiens Contractual Obligations: Joel Armia

From a “snake bit” youngster oozing maturity to a misfit skilled kid, it is an odd bunch due for renewal or release this summer in Montreal.  That being said, the oddest one in the bunch might just be one of the newer arrivals and he is certainly the most difficult one to nail down.

 

Joel Armia

 

Enigma.  Jack of all trades, master of none.  Joel Armia is one of the most puzzling players in the game today but no one is complaining.  His skating is by no means overwhelming but he keeps up with the modern game and his hands catch his opponents seemingly by surprise.  He battles willingly and winningly with a 6’4 and 200+ pound frame, slotting in nicely with a variety of linemates throughout the season as he often sat around the third line where he is likely to remain.

 

Who would even be a comparable for such a player? This sort of description would figure him to be akin to many players across the league but the eye test says otherwise.  Omnipresent, unique; Joel Armia is a wild card and having such a player should prove valuable to any team with winning aspirations.  Maybe he is just hitting his stride as he soon turns 26 years old, maybe Claude Julien gets the best out of him as he has placed him into new situations and granted him new opportunities.  Sure, 23 points on the season may not look like much at first blush but Armia played just 57 games this season, good for a point per game pace of 0.40.

 

How does one project a player’s value for an upcoming contract when what they do is based on so many things other than their point total? How committed is the Canadiens brass to Joel Armia? He certainly will not be getting an eight year extension but he could likely expect three to four years if the dollar figures were team friendly.  Most comparable players in terms of point per game figures (more accurate than simple totals as a result of Armia missing so much of the season) are a wide array of players; many of whom have been traded, have hit a somewhat unexpected decline from prior seasons with cap hits around the $4,000,000 mark or are on entry level deals so it is likely natural that Joel Armia should find himself in the middle with his now expired cap hit of $1,850,000.

 

Verdict: qualify and extend.  Projection: 3×3 deal, $3,000,000 for 3 seasons.  This contract is highly unlikely to be under two years and would likely be a mistake on the part of Marc Bergevin if it were to be so short.

 

It goes without saying that Joel is in for a raise but figuring out by how much is perhaps problematic.  If it is anywhere below $2,500,000 then it should be considered a large bargain; conversely, if it is above $4,000,000 then expectations for Joel Armia should continue to climb but others in his range that have received such deals have experienced difficulty living up to the hype.

 

For a guy that was essentially a throw-in for accepting Steve Mason’s contract and buying him out, Joel Armia has turned heads all around La Belle Province.  The franchise seems to like him and the fans certainly appreciate him.  Guys around his depth –albeit centers– have been known to see those four year deals for $14,000,000 in total and it should not be considered out of this world to see him receive one of his own but with a seemingly renewed philosophy and pending free agents thus far accepting discounts, there are plenty of wrinkles in this one.

 

Plenty of tall tasks are being seen here in terms of nailing down a player’s value into numbers but this one may just prove to be the tallest in the bunch and not just due to his physical stature.  Whatever the case, Joel Armia is part of the solution for the Montreal Canadiens and should be expected back without putting much strain on a wide open salary cap as it stands.

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