There were some nervous moments but the Habs and P.K. Subban were able to put
pen to paper on an eight year, $72 million deal over the weekend to ensure that
he will be patrolling Montreal’s blueline for years to come. Some fans
were surprised by the cost while many others condemned how long it took to get
to this point. How do our writers feel about the price and the negotiation
process from Marc Bergevin and Don Meehan?
Simon Aronson: As I see it, this is a fair deal for both the
team and player. The Canadiens have not had a player such as Subban, who thrives
under the pressure that can come with playing in Montreal since the days of
Subban is without a doubt one of the premier defencemen in the NHL and
deserves to be paid accordingly. As it currently stands, he has the highest cap
hit of any NHL blueliner (although not the highest salary) and while some people
may argue that although he is an elite defender, he is not #1 in the league, and
therefore the contract is an over-payment. With the new precedents being set in
the NHL with the Toews/Kane contracts and the projected rise in the salary cap,
fans should be prepared to see contracts with AAV’s over $10 million become more
common in the coming years.
Although Subban’s $9 million dollar cap hit may seem high today, I would be
quite surprised if he still held the distinction of being the leagues’ highest
paid defenceman for even the first half of his new deal. Furthermore, like many
long term contracts that seem excessive at first, I think the cap hit will be
looked upon favourably in the later half of the deal. What the Canadiens have
done with this deal is lock up their best player for the entire prime of his
career. It is not one of those deals we’ve seen before where the player is
signed well into their projected decline or possibly past their anticipated
As a fan, people are often hopeful that the star player leaves money on the
table (a la Sidney Crosby) in order to make it easier for the team to acquire
additional star players and improve their chances of winning the Stanley Cup. I
argue that Subban has in fact left money on the table. If he had chosen to,
Subban could have forced the Canadiens to give him a short-term deal that would
have eventually led him to unrestricted free agency where I believe he could
have signed for even more.
Matt Dilworth: Although the whole arbitration process made me
more nervous than I would have liked, I’m relieved and ecstatic to have P.K.
signed for the next eight years. As is the case when any superstar signs a
present-day contract, the price seems too high, but over the course of a few
years, Subban’s salary will likely be seen as more appropriate. With the risk of
going through arbitration next year, or even losing Subban outright in 2016, I
think Marc Bergevin did everything in his power to sign his star defenceman to a
reasonable contract, and at the end of the day, I’m pleased with the agreement.
I wasn’t one to condemn Bergevin’s insistence on a bridge contract in 2013,
and I appreciate his efforts to manage the team’s long-term security by locking
up an important asset, while leaving some flexibility with the cap for the
future. I’m equally pleased with Subban, who could have easily accepted two
arbitration awards and walked as a free agent, but chose to invest his best
years with Montreal instead.
Brian La Rose: Short-term, the cap hit may sting relative to
that of many of the other top defencemen throughout the league but that will
change as long as the salary cap increases as expected over the next several
seasons. Fortunately, Marc Bergevin did well to ensure there was enough
cap space to fit in such a high salary without presenting any issues heading
into next season. This is a big commitment to make but Subban doesn’t seem
like the type of player who will ease up now that he has long-term financial
security or one that will struggle with the deservedly-heightened pressure that
accompanies such a big contract.
As for how we got to this point, I have no issues whatsoever with how things
transpired. A smart GM plays all of his cards and so too does a smart
agent. When that happens, particularly when you’re in the midst of
negotiating an unprecedented contract, there are going to be challenges and
hiccups along the way. In the end, the only thing that matters is that
the deal got done, not how.
Alex Létourneau: It’s about time. After sucking in the entire
hockey world and forcing people to collectively question the sanity of Canadiens
management, P.K. Subban will be a part of the Canadiens organization for a
pretty reasonable $72 million over eight years. The way it went down was simply,
and truthfully, horrific. While I’m not anywhere near close to the negotiation
process, I can’t understand how it took this long to sign arguably the biggest
piece of the franchise. Anyway, it’s water under the bridge.
Given the way Subban has progressed over the years, this deal may look cheap
to the Habs brass halfway through the contract. In Subban, Montreal has signed
one of the few game breakers in the league and quite possibly the future captain
of the Canadiens, if he doesn’t get it before the season starts. His defensive
game will continue to be refined and as long as he avoids a catastrophic injury,
he’ll be well into his prime long before this contract ends. I hated the way it
boiled down but it’s a great contract for both sides.
Norm Szcyrek: I’m ecstatic over the contract! P.K. is a home
grown talent, who’s arguably the most valuable player to the Habs and now he’ll
be paid like it. I was a little surprised that he was signed for a bit more than
the $8.5M that he was reported to have presented to the arbitrator on Friday.
However, Marc Bergevin was a tough negotiator, pushing the process as far as
possible, but eventually realizing that allowing it to go too far was risking
the alienation of Subban to the team and organization. There was a huge out roar
in the Montreal area and through social media last Friday, when the two sides
formally met with the arbitrator, but it was nice to see that both sides came to
an agreement that everyone obviously agreed to before the arbitrator had to
force a decision.
Needless to say, the posters on the HW Forum were also applauding the
contract. Here is a sampling of their responses.
The Chicoutimi Cucumber: I have no doubt at all that within 2-3 years
this contract will be well within normal parameters. It makes PK the
highest-paid defenceman until the next star D-man signs a deal. The reason that
people are a tiny bit unsettled by the cap hit – not that everyone isn’t happy
they’ve signed him – is that such a reaction is a normal part of the process of
contract negotiation in a system in which the cap reliably rises. Each new deal
feels inflated relative to its predecessors and comes to seem less
extravagant as time passes.
Lovett’s Magnatones: What a relief. The second most important piece in
a Cup victory, behind a goalie, is signed long term at a fair rate. Subban is
the richest defenseman in the league and player in Montreal history, and
Bergevin has two million in cap space to pay for potential bonuses. No shame in
caving to PK. The rumour mill next year with him on a short deal would be
Colin: On. The. Cheap. That is a great hometown discount, IMO. I was
expecting between 9.5 and 10 because, really, his type of defensemen is rarified