Skip to content

Pros and cons of Subban filing for arbitration

Jul 5, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT

P.K. Subban AP

Once again, it seems like the Montreal Canadiens and P.K. Subban are having at least a bit of trouble hashing out a new contract, with the latest development being that the star blueliner filed for salary arbitration on Saturday.

For some, that might be cause for heightened blood pressure if not the sounding of various alarms. The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell lays out a few reasons why this doesn’t have to be such a bad thing, though.

First, it is certain Subban will not be embroiled in a contract dispute with the Canadiens and will be in training camp the day it opens in September. Second, it protects the Canadiens from having another team submit an offer sheet on Subban. And finally, if it goes all the way to arbitration, it ensures that Subban will be neither overpaid nor underpaid.

If – and it’s a big if – Subban’s case actually makes it to a hearing (which will take place sometime between July 20 and August 4), the two sides would hammer out either a one or two-year deal.

The interesting part about a two-year deal is that it would cover the final two seasons of Subban’s restricted free agent status. He’s 25 right now and will get his first chance of being UFA-eligible in the summer of 2016.

Settling for a two-year deal would be a short-term win, yet it could very well prove costly in the future.

Peak years, peak prices

By just about any measure, Subban is distinguishing himself as one of the best defensemen in the NHL, and he’s really hitting the meat of his prime years right now.

While his Norris Trophy-winning 2012-13 season likely represents his best work so far, Subban set career-highs in games played, time on ice, assists (43) and points (53) last season. He already has 43 postseason games under his belt, with this past playoff run drawing the most attention (though, honestly, his numbers look good in every postseason so far).

At his age, he’s in that prime area of peak athleticism and increasing understanding of the game. It’s not out of the question for Subban to grab another Norris Trophy between now and the 2016 offseason, and even if that fails, for him to lock up a couple All-Star nods (remember those?) and strong playoff performances to drive up his value that much more.

source: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

When you add a salary cap ceiling likely to climb – slowly or not – the price for a player like Subban could be that much higher in 2016. That’s especially true if the Habs go through the often-awkward process of explaining why he’s not worth as much as he believes in salary arbitration. In a league where teams often get “hometown discounts” with players they develop, there’s a tight rope to walk between being tough negotiators and estranging your most important assets.

Besides, big extensions for players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane could only raise the ceiling for other stars, even if they play different positions.

Walking a tricky line

The Canadiens can breathe a sigh of relief that Subban won’t receive any challenging offer sheets this summer, and maybe none at all assuming that a two-year deal is reached.

Still, Montreal GM Marc Bergevin might be wise to strike up a lengthier extension (thus avoiding arbitration and/or shorter contracts) to eat up a few UFA years rather than risking the future for an easier short-term pact.

They effectively “won” a nerve-wracking game of contract chicken by signing Subban to a two-year, $5.75 million deal in the early moments of the 2012-13 season, but at some point, the leverage will lean Subban’s way instead. It might be smarter to foster some goodwill now with a longer contract (and also put off a potentially mammoth deal that could come if Montreal goes the “bridge deal” route once again).


What kind of deal would you try to strike up with Subban if you were in Bergevin’s shoes? Would you let it get to arbitration? It’s not an easy situation, yet at least Canadiens fans know that the star will likely remain in Montreal for at least the next season or two.

  1. heynyc61 - Jul 5, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    PK is a terrific player but he is a liability in his own end and sometimes a little too selfish with the puck….

    • mcphillthy - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:03 PM

      I’ll take him in Philly then if he isn’t up to par for your standards…..?

  2. killerpgh - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    I think the max I would offer him is just a bump over what Kris Letang’s contract is for (8 years, 58 million). I would Probably offer PK 8 years, 60 million. If his agent laughs at that number I would say screw it an go to arbitration.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:24 PM

      Letang is not worth 58 million.

      • thesportsjudge - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:52 PM

        That isn’t the point though.

      • c9castine - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:32 AM

        Like a dog who sees a squirrel

  3. pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    I could see him getting a hefty contract than sitting back. I think anyone who signs him should be weary

    • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      He seems like he is better at commentary than being an actual Defense-man in the NHL. Did you see him at the NHL player awards? No one could get away from this guy. He wouldn’t Shut up

      • c9castine - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        You say a lot of things in here that are factually incorrect.

        If you want people to listen to opinions like “a norris trophy winner isnt that good at playing defense” you should start by getting the facts right.

    • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      the Norris Trophy is given to the Defense-man with the most amount of points… NOT THE BEST DEFENSE. Tell me how a guy like PK or Keith win that Trophy over a guy like Shea Webber or Ryan Sutter? Norris Trophy is Poisoning the minds of a lot of people…. If you think Duncan Kieth is the best Defense man in the league because he won a Norris Trophy you in fact are a moron.

      • skuba7 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:44 PM

        Hard to follow your logic when you misspell literally each of the names of the Defensemen you are talking about.

  4. raleighcaniac - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    There isnt a team in the NHL that wouldnt take him with a 5 year 30-35m contract. If you hate him its because he has swagger he can back up.

    • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:23 PM

      the best fit for PK out of all of the NHL teams i think would be Colorado or CHI. There are no better teams at letting the D man pinch up and filling the void with a player who is smart enough to jump back for him

      • avscup - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        Roy wouldn’t tolerate his irresponsible d zone play.

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:38 PM

        He deals with Tyson Barrie… I think he could deal with PK and Probably even get him to be a better defender.

      • avscup - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Barrie had no choice but to conform. He is almost a rookie. Subban is hardly a rookie, has been in the league for how long and has not changed defensively. COL also will not have the cap space after signing O’Reilly and Roy/Sakic won’t pay 1 D that much. So no, Subban wouldn’t be a fit!

      • skuba7 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        @avscup, the Avalanche also employ Erik Johnson (in speaking about D zone play). Besides, this was clearly a hypothetical, VERY few competitive teams have room for another $7M added to their roster.

  5. pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    He is a great player in the offensive zone but he needs to be a better defenseman

  6. nightfireop - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    if faced with one or the other, who would u have?
    doughty or subban

    • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:09 PM

      Doughty… Thats a no brainer…. Did you see how miserable Doughty alone made it for the entire Hawks team especially Kane (DEFENSIVLEY). Suban couldn’t even do much against NYR. There is no comparison in my mind

      • habs9 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        there is no comparison to their teams either….

  7. Stiller43 - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    Doughty all day

    • theageofquarrel - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:55 PM

      Every day

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:11 PM

        I wouldnt say every day because there have been many games where he gets frustrated. I am guessing you along with the entire LA fan base are all band-wagoners

      • chanceoffleury - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:30 PM

        And twice on Sundays

  8. rushledger - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Here’s a con he’s gonna put himself first and bleed every Penny out of Montreal he can get till they have to trade him or can’t stay competitive because he wants 8 or 9 plus when he should take 7 even and call it a day, anyone to me is greedy which he can be with the puck enough to hurt the team.

    • skuba7 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      A lot of speculation there. Will you call Toews or Kane out when they procure $10+M contracts? Crosby, Malkin?

  9. pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Best Two-Way Defense-man ever to play the game was number 27 Scott Niedermayer… Every where he played on he won a championship. One of the smartest guys ever to play the game. Think I’am wrong?

    • avscup - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      Um…he isn’t even close to Borque, Lidstrom, or Orr. He sits 23 in scoring and while he was very good all over the ice, there are plenty that were better D and scored way more! Plenty.

      He was very good for sure.

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:43 PM

        Right… Because points mean everything….. How many cups did borque win? give me a break pal. CHAMPIONSHIPS IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. He Left NJ after beating his brother in stanley cup finals and won a cup with them…. YOUR DUMB. Points dont mean everything bud. Not at all

      • avscup - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        I’m dumb because i dont agree with some punk? Bourque would be the first pick of any player any who played against them both. Like cups are everything also. Because we all know Niedermeyer won all those by himself.

        Grow up douchebag!

      • avscup - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        BTW, when you are trying to call a player the best ever, part of the evaluation will include points. Bourque was a way better defensive player than Niedermeyer, he just happened to score more points. Same with Lidstrom.

        YOUR DUMB, haha. I bet you don’t even know you misspelled that accusation Einstein!

      • thesportsjudge - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        “YOUR DUMB”

        You win the internet for the day!

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:34 AM

        Man this debate heated up quickly. It’s next to impossible to settle an argument like this as some people will point to Cups, size/intimidation, points, defensive prowess, instincts or whatever else to make their points. Being a Flyers fan I saw plenty of Niedermayer and let me say he was excellent. A truly elite defenseman. However, he also had the benefit of playing with some of the most dominating teams of his era. Just look at the names on those Devils teams… Brodeur, Stevens, Danekyo, Rafalski, Elias, Sykora, Mogilny, Arnott, Holik, Gomez (when he was at his best), Brylin, and defensive forwards like Madden, Pandalfo, and McKay. They were close to unbeatable.

        Bourque was an offensive dynamo, one of the games greats, but yeah he only won a Cup with an absolutely stacked Avs team. Still the guy averaged almost a point a game and is a legend. Then you have guys like Lidstrom who was as close to perfect as a modern day defenseman could be. However, he also had help from some historic Detroit teams. Niedermayer, Lidstrom, and Bourque all got to win Cups with the best teams of the late 90’s/early 2000s. And of course old timers will throw out Orr. And who can argue with a name like that. It’s impossible to settle these arguments.

        Still, as a Flyers fan, let me throw a name into the ring that people never ever give his due… Mark Howe. The guy was the Lidstrom of the 80s. He averaged .8 pts per game in almost 1000 NHL games, and over a point per game in the WHA. The guy played professional hockey from 73 to 95 and almost help carry two underdog Flyers teams over the juggernaut Oilers. I’m not saying he’s the best, but his name should be mentioned far more than it is.

      • avscup - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        Very well written and spot on. Howe was a good one as well.

        I know it is hard to pick the best ever two way defenseman but I do know it isn’t Niedermayer. Not because he was not great, he simply was not as great as others. Points scored have to be a big part of it because that is part of the equation when talking about two way D. Niedermayer is not close. Bourque, was very good in his own zone. He also is at the top of the list of all time +\- right behind Larry Robinson. Another all time Great with plenty of cups!

        It’s too hard to pick the all time best unless you are talking about Gretzky, but we are not. We’re talking D men and there are many ahead of Niedermeyer by any measurement you might use. Orr changed the game more than anyone, so perhaps it’s him.

      • pj608 - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        @PhillyPhanatic… You do bring up some very good and valid points. There is one minor detail you are forgetting though.

        “Just look at the names on those Devils teams… Brodeur, Stevens, Danekyo, Rafalski, Elias, Sykora, Mogilny, Arnott, Holik, Gomez (when he was at his best), Brylin, and defensive forwards like Madden, Pandalfo, and McKay.”

        Every single one of those players fit A system. The system that NJ plays. 2 way team style of play. Every single one of those guys besides the ones that retired as a devil on the devils or Scott Niedermayer (who went to Anehiem to win a cup with his brother after defeating him and his team in the 2003 SC Finals…..

        All of them when to a different team and we HORRIBLE. Arnott, Holik, Gomez, Brylinn, Madden, Pandalfo, McKay, Sykora were all hopeless with out each other. Now you say they were great? Yes, they were for NJ. but you take a guy like Mark Messier and see the things he did with out his team mates in Edmonton. Those guys were not great…. They were great on a team in NJ. Yes. They were all Over paid, busts on another team. Yes, I’ll give you brodeur stevens and Daneyko but ken was way past his prime in those years. Brodeur was just a kid. When Marty Brodeur won his first Stanley Cup in 1995 he was only making $140,000 a year. We all know stevens was a beast, yes. but to say this entire team was built of all stars. You are dead wrong. Compare those players to the Detroit red wings which had every all star player you could imagine on there team and Colorado which was by far the most stacked out of the 3 and NJ couldnt even compare (players individually) That team was brought together by good coaching and the glare in Scott Stevens’ eyes. Devils are my favorite team and there is no way you can compare those three teams by individual players.

      • avscup - Jul 7, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        Both those teams had the best two way defensemen EVER. Lidstrom and Bourque.

    • pete387 - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      Think a lot of old timers will disagree with you. Ever hear of Bobby Orr?

      • avscup - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:29 PM

        Or Larry Robinson, Larry Murphy, Chelios…the list goes on.

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:50 PM

        Of course i’ve heard of Bobby Orr but in my Opinion a lot of those older guys were slightly over rated. The Goalies were terrible back then. He was 6’7” which was 3/4s of the reason why he was any good. Yeah Chelios i would agree with but scott Niedermayer is always under rated

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:52 PM

        and Of course i know who Larry robinson is. He is my favortite coach along with Scotty Bowman

      • c9castine - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:20 PM

        This is what im talking about. Bobby orr was 6’7? Did i misunderstand or is that what you said.

        Bobby orr was like 5’11. Pretty sure he was under 6 foot

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:46 PM

        Bobby Orr was 6’0”…. I was Referring to the best goaltender back then which was ken dryden. He was 6’4”

      • pete387 - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:27 AM

        Orr overrated? He was many things but overrated was not one of them. In fact, his defensive ability was often overlooked because of his high point totals. You’re entitled to an opinion, but there’s no way Niedermayer was better than Orr.

    • avscup - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    • avscup - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      Ok. Sure thing…. COL only won that cup because of how stacked their team was… They had Rob Blake, Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Adam Foote, Milan Hejduk, Alex Tanguay, Peter Forsberg ( i know he was injured but he was a big part in the early series) , Chris Drury,

      • avscup - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:01 AM

        So what? Every hockey expert places Bourque in the top 3 EVER! Nobody has Niedermeyer in the top 10. I said he was very good. Best ever… Not even close.

        You throw the term dumb, moron, idiot around an awful lot for some kid with no clue.

      • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:41 AM

        Ok. Bud… Heres a fact that even a imbecilic fool such as yourself couldnt disagree with or i would hope couldn’t. So lets put your knowledge of hockey and your “point” system to the test…..

        Name me 10 guys other than Obvious ones such as Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier and Joe Sakic that are actually better than Peter Forsberg…. He is ranked number 106 of all players that had played the game. PLEASE…. PLEASE NAME 10 GUYS THAT ARE ACTUALLY BETTER THAN PETER FORSBERG ON THIS LIST.

      • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:57 AM

        The only other one you can mention is Mike Bossy. Other than that, No one on that list was actually better than Peter Forsberg. So how does your little point system on ranking players look now hot shot?

      • avscup - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        Except You were talking about best two way D men ever. That would mean points are very important. How do you measure defensive ability? Bourque, Robinson, Lidstrom all were harder to play against in their own zone And they scored more points! They also have a better +\- total, a pretty good indicator.

        You are entitled to your own opinion, but don’t call me names just because I put up facts and stats that prove you are wrong.

        You can believe Niedermayer is the best ever. I couldn’t care less because I know better. I saw All of them play many times! You?

        You might have more luck arguing Santa Clause is better than the Easter Bunny kid! You don’t still believe do you?

      • clavette - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        by your terrible cup = skill logic you are essentially saying that shawn thornton is better than joe thornton

        but cups = skillzors!

        niedermayer will never be considered one of the greatest to ever play. bourque and lidstrom played in the same era and were in another league compared to him

    • sabatimus - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      Um, Number Four?

      • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 4:12 PM

        Ronnie Francis played OVER 1,000 more games than Forsberg. Yes he was a great player but if Forsberg played anything near 1,750 games he would of had over 2,000 points bringing him at number 2.

        Also Francis was a -10. Forsberg was a +238. Thats like saying Brett Farve was a better Quarterback than Tom Brady because his stats show it even though he played 12 extra seasons. Theres no point in talking to bird brains like you. You just read a piece of paper or an article on the internet and it must be true. How about if Lebron James surpasses Michael Jordan in Points???? That means hes a better player I guess right? GTFOH.

      • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        Hey! Look, Jagr is above Mario Lemieux in points!!!! WOW?!?!?!?! He must be better!

        F****ing S*** for brains

  10. harayanni - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:22 AM

    Point is this guy Subban gets better every year. And how this guy brings in the playoffs is unbelievable.
    Please the things he does on the ice mind boggles me. It’s scary to see this guy at 30. Pay him to be best paid dman in hockey and make him captain with Gionta now gone.

    • sabatimus - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      The things he does on the ice mind boggles me too. Like new ways to come up with embellishment.

      • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        That whole team was a bunch of fairies when it came down to embellishment… They need to start dishing out fines along with penalties for that. Go figure…. a black guy is on your team so now they try playing basketball instead of hockey.

        PK is a Great player and will progress. He will develop the skills he needs to play on both sides of the ice and knowing when and WHERE to pinch up to. I have to agree though seeing that entire team flop was pretty much embarrassing as an NHL fan.

    • sabatimus - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      Subban missed his calling at the World Cup.

  11. paulerhythm - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Montreal would be foolish to let this guy be unhappy. PK earned and deserves what he gets, just saying.

  12. rexranius - Jul 6, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    pj608 is probably the second best commentor of all time on NBC right behind the PFTpoet. I know that there are some stats out there to back it up too, but don’t make me resort to that. Don’t try to argue either otherwise I will tell you that you have a week mind and that YOUR DUMB.

    For those about to post (from your parents basement), WE SALUTE YOU!

    • avscup - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      Here is one for you Pj. Have mommy and daddy read and explain it to you if you have trouble.

      • pj608 - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:48 AM

        Iam probably older than you, I have probably actually watched more of those players play than you have. Keep reading your internet articles. You are probably some 4 eyed geek that sits at home and jerks off all day wishing they were ever able to strap on a pair of skates and hit the ice. Go on… Keep reading. All your stats and this and that. Sure… good for you bud.

        For your information I built my own house in the 80’s when mommy and daddy were probably wiping your ass. Keep mocking people over the internet that you have no idea who they are….

      • avscup - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        Wow, the PHT hockey genius calling the kettle Black.

        Was it Booby Orr or Ken Dryden that was 6’7? Or was it 6’4?

        YOUR DUMB.

        By the way, nobody thinks Niedermeyer was the best ever 2 way defenseman except you. How’s it feel being the only idiot in your village?

      • pj608 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        If you can Read I told you…. and no. I am not the only person that believes Scott Niedermayer was the best 2 way defenseman. Doesn’t matter. Grow up, ask mommy why your balls haven’t dropped yet and get over it. The game is completely different than it was 30 years ago. You compare week defense and goalies that chased you into center ice and behind the net to teams that play tight to the point/collapsing defense. AND THE GOALIES STAY IN THE CREASE!!!! Your comparing apples to oranges. The game was way different when Bobby Orr played and when Scott Niedermayer played. Just get over yourself and go learn something. In fact… Go watch some hockey and stop jerking your little Pee Pee of to stats of players you have never actually seen play besides in highlight reels.

      • avscup - Jul 7, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Why are you even mentioning the way hockey was played 30 years ago. Both Bourque and Lidstrom played in the same era as Niedermeyer. This argument is dumb. It’s hard to argue with an idiot that has no clue so I’m out.

        YOUR DUMB, hehe. Remember that little gem?

  13. lennaykekua - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    The three Subban Bros could all play for The Habs one day and star in Subaru commercials. Car sponsors have generally shied away from the “Staal” brothers as commercial pitchmen for obvious reasons.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1834)
  2. P. Kessel (1413)
  3. M. Richards (1200)
  4. N. Backstrom (1112)
  5. M. Giordano (1058)