The deals -- six years for Hughes, carrying a $7.85-million cap hit through 2026-27; and three for Pettersson, worth $7.35 million a year through 2023-24 -- instantly brighten the franchise's outlook for the next few years.
After a busy summer of trades and signings that brought mixed reviews, general manager Jim Benning's signings of the franchises' two brightest young stars have been received with overwhelming praise, considered to be lucrative yet fair for both players and team.
Let's take a close look at both, including how they stack up against their peers.
(All contract figures are via the wonderful CapFriendly.)
Contract: Six years x $7.85 million ($47.1)
Signing date (and age): Oct. 1, 2021 (age 21)
Whereas Pettersson's deal follows the bridge deal model of many other young RFA stars, Hughes' contract runs six years and walks him into unrestricted free agency as a 27-year-old in 2027.
Hughes' new deal gives him the 16th highest cap hit among defencemen. If we look solely at the cap hit and nothing else, the most comparable AAVs belong to veterans Shea Weber ($7.857 million) and Victor Hedman ($7.875 million) who are just ahead of him and Jared Spurgeon ($7.575M) and Aaron Ekblad ($7.5M) who sit just behind. Of course, that's where the similarities end -- these deals were all signed in much different cap climates and circumstances.
Hughes' top contract comparables:
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Contract: Six years x $9 million ($54M total value)
Signing date (and age): July 24, 2021 (age 22)
This is the most obvious place to start, considering we're already in the habit of comparing these two dynamic defencemen. Hughes finished as the 2019-20 Calder Trophy runner-up behind Makar after the duo put up nearly identical stat lines and gave two fanbases a glimpse into bright futures on their respective blue lines. Makar's deal, signed in the summertime, was considered a comparable for where Hughes' deal might come in at.
For Colorado, who is very much in win-now mode and soon heading towards a cap crunch, getting Makar under contract beyond a bridge was really crucial in giving them cap stability as the franchise looks to navigate their way to the Stanley Cup Final. This deal is worth every penny, and Hughes' will likely be a bargain by that time.
After Vancouver's cinderella playoff run in the Edmonton bubble in 2020, signing Quinn brings Benning & Co. one step closer to that prime winning window.
Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers
Contract: Six years x $6.75 million ($40.5 M total value)
Signing date (and age): Sept. 12, 2019 (age 22)
Provorov is already two seasons into this six-year pact, and isn't at the same level offensively as Hughes but does represent the future of Philly's blue line in a similar way. Locking him up to a mid-range deal allowed the Flyers to invest in more complementary blue line pieces, which we saw them do this summer.
Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars
Contract: Eight years x $8.45 million ($67.6M total value)
Signing date (and age): July 17, 2021 (age 21)
Now, we get into the max-term pacts. Locking up Heiskanen to an eight-year deal was a no-brainer, and handing him some control in the form of a no-move clause starting in 2025-26 comes with that. Heiskanen was a revelation during the Stars' 2020 post-season run, flexing his offensive muscle and showing just how worthy of every penny he is. Like the one signed by Makar, Heiskanen's deal -- which will see the Finn reach unrestricted free agency at age 29 in 2029 -- was considered a comparable for Hughes over the course of negotiations. Considering the similar offensive potential here, Hughes' cap hit is all the more reasonable for Vancouver.
Thomas Chabot, Ottawa Senators
Contract: Eight years x $8 million ($64M total value)
Signing date (and age): Sept. 19, 2019 (age 23)
The Senators wasted absolutely no time locking up their top defenceman to an eight-by-eight deal that was met with rave reviews. Chabot is now one year into the pact, which marked the first long-term commitment between the organization and one of their young franchise pillars.
Contract: Three years x $7.35 million ($22.05M total value)
Signing date (and age): Oct. 1, 2021 (age 22)
Over the past few seasons, we've seen a number of bridge deals being signed, with young players betting on themselves for another big RFA payday while teams navigate the uncertain cap future.
If we're looking strictly at cap hits, we can highlight Jesperi Kotkaniemi's Carolinian offer sheet as a similar marker -- but considering the unconventional nature of that one-year, $6.1-million deal, and the significantly higher production rates put up by Pettersson, the Canucks' deal looks like a steal with far more certain circumstances. Another unique one-year deal is the one signed by Patrik Laine's who has a $7.5-million bet with the Blue Jackets that he'll be able to take his game to the next level.
Young players like Nico Hischier ($7.25 million per year), Clayton Keller ($7.15M), and Andrei Svechnikov ($7.75M) as well as veterans like Ryan O'Reilly ($7.5M) and Vladimir Tarasenko ($7.5M) all have average annual values having right around that of Pettersson, but those are all long-term pacts (and, in the case of the Blues, players at very different stages in their careers).
Pettersson's top contract comparables:
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
Contract: Three x $7 million ($21M total value)
Signing date (and age): January 9, 2021 (age 24)
This is the most accurate comparable based on, well, everything. Both young centremen have a Calder in their trophy cabinet (Barzal won in 2018, followed by Pettersson a year later), both ushered in new eras to their respective franchises, and both went the bridge-deal route en route to what will almost certainly be another raise upon its conclusion.
When Barzal signed his three-year pact a week into training camp back in January, it was widely regarded as the floor-setter for what Pettersson would earn, given Pettersson's skillset gives him a higher ceiling as far as production goes.
In his first year on the new deal, Barzal put up 17 goals and 45 points in 55 games and was excellent in the playoffs with six goals and 14 points through 19 contests. Pettersson's 2020-21 campaign was interrupted by injuries, limited to just 26 games after putting up back-to-back 66-point seasons. Now fully healthy, he's expected to return to those kinds of numbers as he embarks on what will hopefully be his first full 82-game season.
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning
Contract: Three x $6.75 million ($20.25M total value)
Signing date (and age): Sept. 23, 2019 (age 23)
This one will be particularly interesting in the seasons to come, considering we can look back at Point's production while playing on his three-year bridge deal that's similar to Pettersson's newly-signed pact and use his next deal to measure what's to come for Pettersson.
Point still has one more year remaining on that three-year contract he signed during training camp in 2019, in what was a massive year for big-name RFAs coming off entry-level deals. Some of those RFAs -- Mikko Rantanen, Mitch Marner, Ivan Provorov -- went straight to longer-term pacts while others -- Charlie McAvoy, Matthew Tkachuk, and Point -- took three-year bridge deals.
In Point's case, that deal was proved best-case-scenario for both team and player: It allowed the Lightning to navigate its star-studded roster beneath an extremely tight cap to back-to-back Stanley Cups, while giving Point ample opportunity to prove he's worth much more. The two sides put pen to paper on a massive eight-year, $76-million extension back in July.
Point's new $9.5-million cap hit, which will kick in to start the 2022-23 campaign, is surely being eyed by bridge deal-signees like Pettersson as the next bar to reach when it comes time to negotiate the next big raise.