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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
It took a long longer than anyone expected but earlier this week, P.K. Subban and the Habs put pen to paper on a two year, $5.75 million extension. This was the type of deal that GM Marc Bergevin sought instead of the long-term pact Subban and agent Don Meehan were asking for. Having had some time to ponder the contract, our writers offer up their thoughts on the deal itself, the process, and the reaction that followed the announcement.
Matt Dilworth: Despite Montrealís strong start, Iím thrilled to have P.K. signed and ready to start the 2013 season. I was beginning to worry when neither side seemed to want to budge, but all in all, Iím satisfied with the agreement that was reached. Bergevin got the short-term, bridge contract he wanted at a reasonable price, while Subban is poised to cash in when this contract expires. Iím pleased that both sides appeared respectful, and although Bergevin seemingly ďwinsĒ this battle, he did compromise on salary, giving Subban an excellent starting point for the next set of negotiations.
That all being said, Iím equally excited to focus on something different than the financial elements of hockey. Markovís renaissance and Diazís emergence as a valuable NHL'er have improved Montrealís defence, while Gorges, Emelin and Bouillon remain steady presences on the blueline. Subbanís return will only bolster a solid defence core and signify NHL depth for the first time in ages. Subbanís ability to absorb tough minutes will make life easier for the veteran defensemen, and even allow Markov or Bouillon to take a night off, if necessary. In a condensed, shortened season, NHL-ready depth on defence will surely aid the Canadiens as they strive to make the playoffs.
Brian La Rose: It's the perfect deal for both sides. The Habs get the low cap hit to ease the transition to a $64.3 million salary cap next season while the contract is backloaded to guarantee Subban a qualifying offer considerably higher than his cap hit. When the contract expires, the team will also be a strong position to give the blueliner the long-term, big money extension he covets with the contracts of Brian Gionta, Tomas Kaberle, and Andrei Markov all expiring next offseason.
Over the past week (encompassing the time just before the signing and the subsequent reaction), speculation has reached a crazy point. No, I don't think we need to read much into the players' reaction, there's nothing wrong with deflecting questions to talk about a game later that night. And no, I don't think we need to worry about this negotiation convincing Subban to reject all overtures to sign long-term, file for two year arbitration, and walk as a UFA four seasons from now. For once, it would be wise not to try to read between the lines - the deal is done and he's back on the ice. That's all we need to concern ourselves with.
Alex Lťtourneau: Glad to see this wrapped up sooner than later. The reactions from Canadiens' players showed it was more than just a little annoying to have to face these questions on a day-to-day basis. That being said, excellent work on Marc Bergevinís part. The term, the money and the process all reflected what Geoff Molson alluded to at the end of last season. Bergevin set up a path for future signings while showing everyone in the NHL, and thatís not a stretch as analysts and journalists across North America were following this one, that in Montreal itís the team first.
That being said, Iím not sure what all the negative commotion is about P.K. It seems Habs fans have short memories because this kid is an exceptional talent with superstar upside. The calls for trades or letting him sit the season out and whatever other ridiculous scenarios brought up were, well, ridiculous. The Habs are a better team with him in the lineup. Period. I had no issues with his statements to the media during the process, felt he said the right things throughout and went for money he thought he was worth. Heíll get the payday later while we get the bargain now. Iím sure heíll step on some toes in the locker room this season, but then, Iíve never been on a team where everyone always gets along.
All in all, it was obviously not as smooth as it could have been but some big positives came out of it. We saw where Bergevin stands after his first real negotiation challenge, we see a framework for future contracts with youngsters, and the team gets P.K. back into the lineup, much to the dismay of 29 other teams in the league. And Andrei Markov. Maybe.
Norm Szcyrek: I'm very glad the Habs, Subban and his agent were able to come to terms on a new contract. On the surface the Habs "won" the battle, with sticking to the short term or "bridge" contract. They also will retain Subban as an RFA after the 2nd year of this contract, which may be advantageous. Subban, if he plays up to his potential, should put himself in a great position to score an even bigger contract with a much longer term. He also more than doubles his first contract in this shortened season (although he's actually grossing about half of it), then he'll more than triple his first contract next season.
- HW Forums discussion on the signing