NHL Rumors: Should Flyers Extend Offer Sheet to Habs’ P.K. Subban?

The Philadelphia Flyers are still reeling from the shocking outcome of their failed Shea Weber offer sheet.  The Nashville Predators, who struggle to turn a profit each year, somehow matched a front-loaded contract to arguably the best defenseman in hockey.  Ousted by a small-market Preds team, what do the Flyers do now?  P.K. Subban, the next-best restricted free agent available this offseason, is reportedly in the mix to fill the Chris Pronger-sized hole in the Philly blue line.

The Montreal Canadiens certainly don’t have trouble turning a profit, but something appears to be holding up contract negotiations with the 23-year-old RFA defenseman.  After freezing their roster for a full offseason to ensure cap space for Carey Price and P.K. Subban, the Habs fell out of the playoff picture during a disastrous 2011-12 campaign. Despite sacrificing last season for their two superstars, P.K. Subban has yet to work out a contract to return to the Montreal Canadiens.

After falling victim to the New Jersey Devils dynamic forecheck this playoffs, defense proved to be the Flyers’ biggest need this offseason – a need the Flyers have yet to address.  If the Philadelphia Flyers extend an offer sheet to the Habs’ young defenseman, they can force the action and possibly come away with a young defensive star in P.K. Subban.

But is it worth offering a contract to P.K. Subban?

P.K. Subban is a solid young defenseman.  His physical play and explosive shot from the point make him a versatile option on any blue line.  Subban is coming off a +9 season on one of the worst defensive teams in the Eastern Conference, suggesting defensive development to go with endless potential.  In just two full seasons with the Habs, Subban has proven he is capable of being a superstar defenseman in the NHL.  Defensemen tend to develop later than other skaters, so the 23-year-old could have his best days ahead of him.  The stalled contract negotiations between the Habs and Subban open the door for the Flyers to make a big move after coming up short on Zach Parise, Shea Weber, and even Ryan Suter.

Still, the Philadelphia Flyers should not extend an offer sheet to P.K. Subban for the sole purpose of making a splash this offseason in an effort to keep pace with the rest of the Atlantic Division.  Subban is certainly an imposing defensive player with a rare skill set, but his game is incomplete and character issues make signing P.K Subban a tremendous liability.  Subban is the type of head-hunting skater to annihilate Devils rookie Adam Larsson with a clean hit as he enters the zone one fateful February day, then cough up the puck for the game-winning goal when veteran Patrik Elias applies a bit of physical revenge-pressure later that game.  P.K. Subban’s inconsistency will not be a good fit in an open-ice system like the one Philadelphia runs.  Do the Flyers really need another defenseman who buckles under a heavy forecheck?  Subban, quite simply, has too much left to learn.

Subban certainly doesn’t command the same type of money Shea Weber did, but by waiting for Weber to commit to an offer sheet P.K. Subban now has leverage over the Montreal Canadiens.  At 23, he could be well on his way to signing a huge contract.  A reasonable offer will likely be matched by the Habs, so the Flyers would need to significantly overpay for Subban’s potential in order to poach him from Montreal.  At this point in P.K. Subban’s career, it simply isn’t worth it.

Lastly, the Philadelphia Flyers cannot sustain another disaster like the Shea Weber contract.  If they try to strong arm one of the most historic franchises in hockey, the Flyers could put themselves in a precarious situation.  Restricted free agency offer sheets are rare, and the Flyers could extend two failed contracts in the same offseason.  Aside from the embarrassment of multiple failed free agency pursuits, the Flyers have to worry about their relationships with the rest of the league going forward.  With Claude Giroux approaching RFA status, is it worth alienating the entire NHL for a controversial defenseman with lots to learn?

Let P.K. Subban and the Habs work this one out on their own.  In one of the worst offseasons in recent memory, maybe the Flyers should just lock up Giroux with their recovered Shea Weber money and move on.

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  • g

    I don’t agree with you assesment of PK Subban as a Flyer. Give him a break he is only 23 years old and could potentially become one of the best defensman in the NHL. He would bring some needed toughness to the Flyers. Also, having Lavolett’s staff work with him in his developement could help the Flyer’s if not in 2013 but in the years beyond. In order to keep the seat filled the Flyers need to do something to shore up its defense. Brysgalov struggled when he didn’t have a defenseman who stopped offensive players walking either in front or on the side of the goal mouth. With a presence like Subban opposing forwards would think twice about stepping in front of the Flyers goal.

  • Verge

    Head-hunting? Let’s see some proof of that. I’ve never seen it.

    Character issues? Such as?

    His game is incomplete, you’re right about that. But he is also honest with himself and others and knows that he needs improvement in certain areas (coughing up the puck foremost amongst them). And he did improve quite dramatically at the end of last season.

    He has a long way to go, definitely. He also has the work ethic and skill set to become one of the League’s best defenseman.

    He’s an upstanding kid, and calling him a head-hunter with character issues is way off base. Way off base.

    You want to talk about character issues, think Raffi Torres, not PK Subban.

    • http://www.thefastertimes.com/hockey markdonatiello

      Eh, he’s not a Raffi Torres type of head hunter, but he certainly goes after the big hit at the expense of his defense. He also turns the puck over, as we’ve both suggested, way too much for the Flyers system. He’d be a work in progress, not the defensive presence Shea Weber would have been. I don’t think he’s worth Shea Weber money, and I don’t think they’ll get him for cheap because the Habs will match if they try. Ultimately, he won’t be worth the type of deal required to poach him from Montreal.

      Thanks for reading. Great points – I appreciate it.

      • tampafrank

        The reality of the situation is if the Flyers have the audacity to take a swing at Subban then look out when a french canadian like Claude Giroux is available. It will make the amount the habs offered Daniel Briere look like spare change in Timothy Geithner’s pocket. Also, the Flyers would become (have become?) public enemy number 1 in the eyes of other NHL GMs. Burke, Sather, Chiarelli, Bowman and many others are watching what’s going on in the streets of Philadelphia. Subban is NOT worth that risk whereas Weber probably was. Good article. Keep up the hockey talk. Always enjoy reading. Take care MD.

  • Alec

    His “character issues” are overblown. What the guy has is lots of confidence and an attitude to him, two qualities which instantly cause people to group you into the “basket case” category. He would fit perfectly on the Flyers. That being said, Subban is the most popular player here and I can’t picture MB not matching pretty much any offer. All it would do is drive PK’s price up, a favour which would probably be repaid when Giroux becomes a free agent.

    • http://www.thefastertimes.com/hockey markdonatiello

      I agree… but I don’t think Giroux ever makes it to the open market – especially if the Flyers swing and miss again.

      The fact is that Subban’s overconfidence couples with on-ice mistakes and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. He’s still developing and the Flyers don’t need a big-name, expensive project.

      I agree that it would take a really big offer to steal him away – but if PK is as good as everyone in Montreal seems to think, maybe he’s worth a Shea Weber contract.

  • Fred Smith

    With Pk one signs him not for what he has done but for what you think he will do.

  • Greg

    PK has many similaries in style and upswing as Drew Daughty, (he’s not there and might never be there), but he has the passion and raw ability to go end-to-end, big shot and ability to change the tempo of a game with a big hit or big shot. Not many defencemen have that, you have to pay a premium for upswing potential, which PK definetly has. At such a young age (esepcially for D-man) logging long long minutes game after game you will make mistakes, and the montreal media will make you relive them over and over.

    He deserves a 4 year deal just over 16M based on teh contracts that have been signed over the last couple of years…I he deliever in those 4 years, with a nice payout, he’ll be 27 (like Weber and Suter) and got for the homerun.

    Going into a system like the Flyers where he wont log 24+mins a game since they do have Kimmo, Mez, Colburn and Scheen, no one has to carry the D, plus his age is perfect for this team with G, Simmonds, Coutourier, and others. Hot Head and Passion are a fine line and he wants to win and always was a winner and being under the montreal microscope at a young age probably game him the Hot Head Title. Montreal better sign him or else Flyers or other aggresive organizations will…