Montreal Canadiens star defensemen PK Subban and the team are reportedly still pretty far apart when it comes to getting a deal done for the 23-year old restricted free agent who is coming off what many view as a “sophomore slump”. The Canadiens would like to sign Subban to a deal similar to the one goalie Carey Price signed when he was also coming off his rookie contract. However Subban reportedly already turned down that exact deal when he said no to the Canadiens offer of two years, 5.5 million. I should note that had Subban accepted that deal, it would’ve made him the 4th highest paid defensemen on the Canadiens. Think he’s the 4th best defensemen wearing the bleu blanc rouge? So, I think its safe to say PK wants more money with more years and rightfully so. With possible offer sheets lurking in the mist, the Canadiens would be wise to get a deal done and get it done soon.
While Subban may not be the best defensemen on the Canadiens (I think he’s top two) he’s certainly been one of their most reliable and steady blue-liners when considering he’s only missed six games in his first two full NHL seasons. He missed one game last season while leading all Canadiens players in ice time and ice time per game, yet still managed to have a +/- of 9 on a team that finished dead last in the Eastern Conference. His scoring production dipped last season, falling to 7 goals as opposed to the 14 he scored during his rookie season but he still finished with 36 points last year which is only 2 points less than the 38 he finished with as a rookie. Not bad for a “sophomore slump”. So, while he didn’t find many goals for himself, he certainly was better at helping teammates find the back of the net without forgetting his own defensive zone responsibilities. He’s the type of young, puck-moving defensemen teams crave and will overpay for.
Speaking of overpaying, with players like the oft-injured Andrei Markov on the Canadiens roster making 5.75 million for the next two seasons, and Tomas “The Cone” Kaberle making 4.25 million next season, it’s easy to see why Subban would like more money. He’s more effective than both of those guys considering Markov can’t even stay on the ice the past two seasons and Kaberle is a far cry from the all-star defensemen he used to be. I should also mention guys like Dennis Wideman and Mike Green have both received big pay raises this past year and I would contest that Subban is better defensively than both those guys while having a pretty good offensive punch himself. PK is also younger than both and has what would appear to be a higher ceiling.
That brings us to the Philadelphia Flyers and their blue line situation. They just lost Andrej Meszaros for what appears to be 6-8 months, Matt Carle signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chris Pronger’s career is in serious question after suffering a major concussion last season. That’s 50% of last year’s defensive core gone, so it’s led many to believe that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren will send an offer sheet to a restricted free agent defensemen like Subban. PK’s a player they could get for much less than the offer sheet they sent Shea Weber and they wouldn’t have to give up nearly as many draft picks. While Holmgren may not do it and probably won’t considering he’s most likely hated by GM’s around the league already for the Weber offer sheet, the possible threat of losing a young rising star like Subban or being forced into a contract they didn’t offer should light a fire under Canadiens management to get a deal done.
If the Canadiens are able to lock up the popular Subban, they’ll have a very solid young core in place with PK and Josh Gorges anchoring the blue line, Price in net, power forward Max Pacioretty carrying the load up front and 2012 3rd overall pick center Alex Galchenyuk on the way. Maybe I’m grasping at straws, but I know if I were a part of the Canadiens organization, or a fan, the thought of facing Subban possibly 6 times a year and potentially in the playoffs is something I wouldn’t want to deal with. I know as a Boston Bruins fan he’s a player I love to hate because he’s solid in all three zones and he’s great at getting under other players and fans skin. He’s a rare mix of skill and swagger that should only get better with maturity and time. A cocky kid who is capable of selling tickets and jerseys because he’s better than most and knows it. Don’t believe me? Check out his highlight reel. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to have to have him on my team rather than play against him.
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