Heading into last season, as the lockout came to an end, P.K. Subban was still without a contract. It took until after the season had already started, but he and the Montreal Canadiens were able to agree to a two-year deal to keep the restricted free agent defenseman in Montreal.
In a lot of ways, it made sense to sign Subban to a short term deal. It sets him up for an opportunity to prove himself to the Habs, while also allowing Subban a bigger payday in just a couple of years. Few expected that Subban would have the season that he ended up having.
Subban was brilliant wire-to-wire for the Canadiens in 2013. He took home the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, and while there were other deserving candidates, there’s little arguing that Subban was worthy of the award. It won’t be the last time he’s in the mix for the hardware either.
He finished the season with 38 points in only 42 games, an outstanding scoring rate for a defenseman. His 27 assists were just two short of his career high, with 19 of them, and 26 of his points overall, coming on the power play. He finished with a plus-12 rating for the year as well.
Subban was strong in his own zone as well. He blocked 49 shots in 42 games and played the physical game when the situation called for it. He’s more of an offensive weapon from back there, but don’t let that take away from the defensive game that he plays quite well in addition to it.
It’s pretty clear that the Habs have one of the game’s elite young defensemen on their hands, which is obviously someone they’d like to retain long term. The unfortunate thing about that short term deal is the fact that he’ll already be up for a new contract when the 2013-14 season is over.
Which means that the Habs are in a position where they can start negotiating an extension with him. He is a restricted free agent again this time around, but they’d be smart to start trying to lock him up this summer. That’d keep the price tag lower, especially if Subban has another season like 2013, while also keeping the potential threat of an offer sheet away.
We don’t know if Marc Bergevin has any intention of getting talks underway with Subban. There’s still time in the summer to begin negotiations on a new deal, but to eliminate distractions and keep the price just a bit lower, the Habs would be smart to begin negotiating sooner, rather than later.