HabsWorld.net -- 

The most common question and discussion topic over the past six weeks has
been the contract situation of P.K. Subban.  He has yet to sign and must do
so prior to Saturday’s expiry of the CBA; otherwise he has to wait until that
situation is settled.  We asked our message board members to put themselves
in new GM Marc Bergevin’s shoes and see what they would offer to get the young
defenceman under contract.

There are two distinct areas to consider here, our discussion thread
primarily focused on is the dollar value and term of any deal.  There is,
however, another factor to take into consideration, that being the timing of
when to sign the contract.  There are pros and cons associated with getting
a deal signed prior to Saturday and for waiting until the new CBA comes into

Lovett’s Magnatones: "I would just bite the bullet now. 6
years, $30 million. The one thing about P.K is that he’s never really been
injured. He’s very durable, and a true competitor. I don’t need to rehash all of
his skills again, but can you think of one skill this guy doesn’t have? He’s
great in all situations. I think P.K is the franchise player, not Carey Price,
Pacioretty or Galchenyuk."

BCHabnut: "I would offer him around $25 mill for 5 years. If he
wants more term or money, I would give him a chance to prove himself with a 2
year deal worth $8 to $9 million. These numbers are fairly high as it is for his
actual performance, but his potential is very good, so I would want a longer
deal. $6+ million per year would be scary for me right now based on his play."

sakiqc: "9 million for 3 years. (2.75 + 3 + 3.25)  I’d
consider 5mil/year in a very long contract (8-10 years)

Still, it’s a little early in his career to break the bank. 5-6 mil/year is
insane when you think about it and what he has accomplished so far! He’ll get
there one day for sure, but why pay for his potential? He’s not an UFA either.
If I’m giving 5mil/year, it has to be a very long contract."

Commandant: "2 years, 9 million (4.5 per season) or 7 years
38.5 million (5.5 per season).  Let Subban pick."

DON: "Anything slightly less than Price is fine with me, so a
deal for $36m ($6.0 for 6 years, or however you load it) seems fair for a young
#1 d-man whose upside looks to be quite high and also when compare to other
recent signings of young players."

One of our other members had a very thought-provoking analysis in suggesting
Subban’s salary alone isn’t everything here:

Machine of Loving Grace: "It doesn’t matter what one player
makes, it’s what everyone makes and what result you get out of it. Subban could
make Doughty money and it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t put up 60 points with it.
How well did the whole team do? That’s all that matters in the end.
Micro-managing as a fan is for the fans of teams who don’t win Cups."

As you’ve seen above, there is a wide level of disagreement in what term of a
contract should be offered to Subban, a trend that seems to match that of the
general fan base as a whole.  Personally, I’m on the short-term bandwagon
when it comes to Subban and players in his situation in general.  In
signing, say, a six year deal, you at best buy out two years of unrestricted
free agency and if the UFA age moves closer to 30 as it was previously, the Habs
would only be removing at most one potential UFA year.  Yes, there would be
a small savings in cap space as the first couple of years would be lower but to
me that’s too small a reward.  Theoretically, Montreal could offer a long,
long-term contract but I’m fundamentally opposed to those so I’m going to skip
over that.

Before I give my contract preference, I want to address the other issue,
timing.  This is a tricky situation for Bergevin and the Habs.  If
they expect a full season to be lost to a lockout, they’d be wise to keep Subban
unsigned.  That way, a year won’t roll off the contract as it would for
those who are signed.  At the same time, there is a bit of risk, especially
if there is a partial season.  If that happens, Subban’s camp has a lot
more leverage in the negotiations as there would be an imminent need to get a
deal done.  If I’m the Habs, I still look to get a deal done now but I
wouldn’t be caving into any demands as the deadline nears, it’s not an absolute
must that a contract gets signed.  I expect that GM’s of the other teams
with prominent RFA’s (and there are quite a few) will share the same feelings
when it comes to this as well.

As for what deal I’d offer P.K. Subban, it’s a two year contract.  I’m
of the mindset that the UFA age will go back a year in the new CBA and if that
happens, one trip to arbitration won’t take him to his UFA year as it would be
three years away.  That still would allow plenty of time for a long-term
deal at that time and being that far behind the time he becomes unrestricted,
there remains a chance for a bit of cap savings as the first couple of years
would be cheaper than the rest.  As for money, I would offer a salary of
$3.25 million in the first year and $3.75 million in year two.  That brings
the cap hit to a reasonable $3.5 million while Subban’s qualifying offer would
be $3.75 at the end of the contract, providing him with a small incentive to go
with a short-term pact.