Gorges signs six-year contract

Now that’s good news for a team that could use some.
Departing with their policy of not negotiating during the course of the hockey season, the Canadiens have signed their steadiest defenceman to a new six-year contract with a reported annual salary cap hit of $3.9 million.

Gorges, coming off knee surgery, signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract after contentious negotiations last summer. Had he not signed by July 1, Gorges would have become an unrestricted free agent.

Consensus opinion, supported by Gorges’ agent, is the Canadiens could have signed him for less money had they offered a long-term contract last summer.

The team wanted to see how Gorges would rebound from his injury – a prudence that seems to have been lacking in negotiations with Andrei Markov.

Is $3.9 million a tad high for a defenceman who doesn’t produce much offence?

For a comparable, consider the Leafs are paying Mike Komisarek $4.5 million per through 2013-’14.

The Canadiens have 13 players signed for 2012-’13 at a total cap hit of $47.4 million. This leaves them approximately $17.5 million under the cap with a list of unsigned players topped by Carey Price, who can become a restricted free agent. The RFA list also includes P.K. Subban, Lars Eller, Raphael Diaz, Ryan White and Alexei Emelin.

Pending UFA’s include Andrei Kostitsyn, Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche, Hal Gill and Chris Campoli.

Undrafted after a junior career with his hometown Kelowna Rockets, Gorges has been the poster boy for overachievement and a respected leader in the Canadiens’ room.

The team announcement:

Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced today the signing of defenseman Josh Gorges to a six-year contract extension (2012-13 to 2017-18). As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Gorges, 27, one of the team’s assistant captains since the start of the 2011-12 season, played in the Canadiens’ 39 games this season, collecting 10 points (1 goal – a game-winning tally at Phoenix on November 10 – and 9 assists) and 24 penalty minutes. The defenseman ranks first on the team with a +6 plus/minus differential and leads all NHL players with 101 blocked shots. Gorges has recorded 60 hits while averaging 22:35 seconds of ice time per game.

In 307 career games with the Canadiens, Gorges has posted 59 points (9 goals, 50 assists). Three of his goals were tallied on the powerplay. He displays a +16 plus/minus differential and served 150 penalty minutes. Gorges was the 2009-10 recipient of the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy, awarded annually to the member of the Canadiens who played a predominant role during the regular season, without earning any particular honor

Since his NHL debut back in 2005-06, Gorges has registered 69 points (10 goals, 59 assists) in 403 NHL regular-season games. The 6’1’’, 201 lbs left-shooting defenseman has recorded 207 penalty minutes and maintained a +18 plus/minus differential. Gorges recorded three of his goals on the powerplay. He has accumulated seven assists in 46 career NHL playoff contests.

A native of Kelowna, British Columbia, Gorges first signed with the San Jose Sharks as a free agent on September 20, 2002 after four seasons with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets and a silver medal at the 2004 World Junior Championship. He was acquired from San Jose on February 25, 2007 along with a first-round draft pick in 2007 (Max Pacioretty), in return for Craig Rivet and a fifth-round draft pick in 2008.

Here’s the Gorges segment from Inside Hockey:

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