The Philadelphia Flyers were one of the most interesting teams to watch this offseason before the lockout temporarily erased hockey from our minds. The big story in Philadelphia this offseason was a front-loaded RFA offer on Shea Weber that the Nashville Predators unexpectedly matched. Still in desperate need of a defenseman to replace Chris Pronger, should the Philadelphia Flyers make an offer on PK Subban?
Earlier this offseason, I wrote that the Philadelphia Flyers needed to avoid the PK Subban trap for a variety of reasons. It was the next logical step to attempt to recover from the Shea Weber debacle, but making a move on PK Subban is dangerous.
Aggressively pursuing RFAs is a bit of a taboo in hockey, though it is certainly legal. Going after two star defensemen in one offseason could reflect poorly on the Philadelphia Flyers. Another matched offer sheet would mean risking the reputation of the franchise for nothing. Assuming the Broad Street Bullies are willing to ignore the feelings of opposing GMs, pursuing PK Subban is still not worthwhile.
The primary focus of the organization should be on locking up Claude Giroux after a breakout season last year. When Giroux’s contract expires at the end of the 2014 season, Giroux will be a restricted free agent. The only RFA that the Flyers should be concerned with is Giroux, and drawing the ire of the rest of the league could mean a heavy price when it comes time to sign Claude Giroux.
Further, I don’t think PK Subban is worth the price it will take to poach him from the Montreal Canadiens. Any reasonable offer will likely be matched by the Habs, and a ridiculous offer to bring Subban to the Flyers in desperation would be ill-advised. The Flyers cannot try to bully the Habs with a front-loaded deal like they did with the Preds. Without leverage, it will be hard to pry Subban away.
PK Subban is still developing, but his reputation is plagued by character and effort issues that he is still working out. For a big hitter, he shies away from contact while handling the puck and is prone to turnovers in his own zone when under pressure. Lastly, his headhunting makes him a liability at times. As exciting as Subban is, it’s hard to justify the big contract he wants. Even the Habs are having trouble negotiating with the young blueliner.
After the lockout, more reasons the Flyers should stay away from PK Subban were created by the new CBA. With Giroux likely warranting a huge contract in 2014, the Flyers are going to have issues circumventing the new salary cap after its steep decline next season. Scott Hartnell is signed through 2019 with a 4.7 million dollar cap hit, and Ilya Bryzgalov signed for nine years at 5.7 million dollars per year. Assuming Claude Giroux lands the big contract he deserves, nearly a third of the salary cap ceiling will be met by three players.
There’s no room for a big deal for PK Subban, and after the latest CBA restrictions on player salaries and salary caps, the Nashville Predators may have bailed the Flyers out of a bad contract with Shea Weber. Going after Subban means putting the future of the franchise at risk financially.
Then again, if the Flyers were to put a little faith in a certain Stanley-Cup-experienced AHL goalie that is finally getting some NHL playing time, they could use the new amnesty clause on Ilya Bryzgalov and make room for a high-salary player like PK Subban. Still, it’s probably best to just stay away.