Jul 5, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
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.
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.
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.
May 26, 2015, 1:13 AM EDT
Monday’s tough loss hasn’t weakened his resolve.
May 26, 2015, 12:21 AM EDT
Matt Beleskey scored the game winner after initially losing his second line spot.
May 26, 2015, 12:03 AM EDT
Chicago was trailing for most of the game.
May 25, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
It was a reversal from the first frame.
May 25, 2015, 10:57 PM EDT
Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier had a big game too.
May 25, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT
The first period was all Anaheim.
May 25, 2015, 9:42 PM EDT
The Ducks got off to an ideal start.
May 25, 2015, 9:17 PM EDT
Emerson Etem is a healthy scratch.
May 25, 2015, 8:29 PM EDT
He needed to keep his wrist frozen to play.
May 25, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT
He was linked to Nashville’s playoff curfew incident.
May 25, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
The series is tied at 2-2.
May 25, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT
There’s going to be a fight for the No. 1 gig in Detroit.
May 25, 2015, 4:41 PM EDT
Reports out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
May 25, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
May 25, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT
They’re expected to speak again before July 1.
May 25, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT
“One bounce here or there, it’s a different story.”
May 25, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT
Made his NHL debut last season, appearing in 16 games.
May 25, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT
He’s eligible to sign an extension this summer.
May 25, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
“Everyone involved with the ZSC Lions is so excited about seeing him play in Zurich.”
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