HabsWorld.net -- 

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 Montreal’s strong start, I’m 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, I’m 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.  I’m pleased that both sides appeared respectful, and although
Bergevin seemingly “wins” this battle, he did compromise on salary, giving
Subban an excellent starting point for the next set of negotiations.

That all being said, I’m equally excited to focus on something different than
the financial elements of hockey.  Markov’s renaissance and Diaz’s emergence
as a valuable NHL’er have improved Montreal’s defence, while Gorges, Emelin and
Bouillon remain steady presences on the blueline.  Subban’s return will only
bolster a solid defence core and signify NHL depth for the first time in
ages.  Subban’s 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 Létourneau:

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
Bergevin’s 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 that’s not a stretch as analysts
and journalists across North America were following this one, that in Montreal
it’s the team first.

That being said, I’m 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. He’ll get the payday
later while we get the bargain now. I’m sure he’ll step on some toes in the
locker room this season, but then, I’ve 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.