The Montreal Canadiens and superstar defenceman P.K. Subban have been unable to agree to terms on a new long term contract, and went to arbitration today to present their cases to a third party this morning.
The team and player can still negotiate on a long term deal, but once the arbitrator decides on a salary for Subban, the Canadiens either accept it as a one year deal, or walk away and Subban becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Reporter Chris Johnston of Sportsnet was at the hotel in Toronto where the hearing took place, and did not paint a rosy picture of the relationship between Habs general manager Marc Bergevin and Subban after the meeting took place.
Subban commented that an agreement was not reached and he will have to live with the one year ruling when it comes down, while Bergevin withheld comment altogether. Johnston also noted that Subban did not look to be pleased with the proceedings when he exited the room where they met with the arbitrator.
I for one thought the Canadiens would be wise enough to not let their negotiations with Subban get here. He is the best skater on the team, and by far the team’s number one defenceman. Where exactly is this team’s blueline if Subban is not a member of the team? Among the worst in the entire league, yet they show no eagerness to sign him to a long term contract.
Subban is invaluable to this team, and was already forced into a bridge contract two years ago when he wanted a long term deal. Why can’t the team lock him up long term like most every team does with their core home-grown talent? Look around the league at team’s blue line depth chart, and you will see much less talented players getting much better treatment from their team.
Subban made Team Canada’s Olympic team this past winter, and whether he was a focal point of the team or not does not matter, the fact he was chosen for such an elite team shows how unique he is. Every other defenceman on that team is in the middle of a long term deal. Duncan Keith and Shea Weber are signed forever, Drew Doughty signed an eight year deal worth 56 million coming out of his entry level contract, Alex Pietrangelo got 6.5 million over 7 years from the St Louis Blues, Jay Bouwmeester is earning 5.4 million for the next five years, Marc Edouard Vlasic got a five year pact from the San Jose Sharks, and even Dan Hamhuis got a six year term with the Vancouver Canucks.
Yet, the Canadiens are willing to force Subban into a one year deal, after low-balling him into a two year bridge contract? Winning an Olympic gold and a Norris Trophy were not enough to show the Habs organization that he is worth keeping around for most of the next decade I guess.
It is rare that any team allows any player to get to an arbitration hearing, let alone a superstar who won a Norris Trophy just over a year ago. The Nashville Predators took Shea Weber to a third party in 2011 when they failed to come to terms with their elite defender. However, Nashville is one of the weakest financial teams in the league, and had to try and sign both Weber and Ryan Suter to deals at the time, all while attempting to pinch every penny they could.
The Canadiens on the other hand make money at an incredible rate and they have over 11 million dollars in cap space for next season. I honestly have no idea why they haven’t already signed Subban to an eight year deal.
Clearly the Habs defender is worth more than the seven year, 49 million dollar contract that was signed by Dion Phaneuf recently.
There is your starting point Bergevin, offer anything less than that and you are just wasting time. Ryan Suter will bring in 11 million dollars in salary next season as the highest paid defenceman in the NHL. Subban must know he is not getting that much, but does know he deserves a seven or eight year contract.
That leaves the player and team negotiating a long term deal between seven and 11 million dollars. Split it down the middle and give the Norris candidate 9 million for the next eight seasons. Wouldn’t that make everyone happy?
Subban would be the highest cap hit in the NHL among defenceman next season at 9 million, but while the cap continues to climb, salaries do the same, and it won’t be long before Subban’s 9 million is surpassed by several blue liners.
Maybe 9 million per year seems like a bit much for the team, but isn’t a slightly overpaid superstar better than a ticked off superstar? Or even worse, no superstar at all?