Despite coming up short in their quest to win their first Stanley Cup since 1993, the Montreal Canadiens’ season can be considered a great success. Not only did they battle through adversity to make the playoffs but they vanquished their arch rivals the Boston Bruins and made the Eastern Conference Finals. Now that the chapter on this season has closed the Canadiens face a monumental task: ensuring superstar defenseman P.K. Subban remains a member of the team.
To put it lightly the talks between Subban and the Habs while negotiating his last contract were contentious as the NHL lockout surely made the already tough situation that much more difficult. When the resolution was reached the contract he ended up getting was less than $3 million per season over two seasons, far below market value for an upper echelon NHL defenseman. Subban ended up missing six games due to the unresolved contract, but still went on to win his first Norris Trophy in that lockout-shortened season. This year Subban continued his strong play and was without question the team’s most valuable player in the playoffs as his puck rushing abilities wreaked havoc on the Canadiens’ opponents throughout their run.
Subban’s two year deal is now up and he will be a restricted free agent in July and will surely have many suitors. The Canadiens hold the upper hand as they can match any offer and would receive compensation in the form of draft picks if another team did try to pry him away from Montreal via offer sheet. Having said that, time is of the essence and it is absolutely critical the Canadiens sign Subban to a new contract before other teams can line up and offer him an offer sheet.
Given his high level of play and the salary cap going back up next season Subban will likely get a contract of $8 to 9 million over seven or eight years. While this is a huge investment, Subban is definitely worth it — he is one of the preeminent defensemen in the NHL. The Canadiens would be foolish to try to “lowball” Subban with a contract value below his market value. Doing this would all but certainly ensure Subban inks another offer sheet, which would create a potentially volatile situation that could spell the end of Subban’s time in Montreal.
While offer sheets are very rare, they’re not unheard of in the recent history of the NHL, particularly among all world defensemen. Two years ago the Philadelphia Flyers tried to entice Shea Weber away from the Nashville Predators with an offer sheet worth over $100 million over 14 years. After some very, very tense moments in the Music City, the Preds matched the offer to keep Weber in Tennessee through 2026.
While the Weber situation epitomizes “all’s well that ends well,” it would be best for the Habs and Subban that a deal gets done before it can go that far. No team wants to have their franchise player’s status hanging in limbo, not even a team with 24 Stanley Cup banners hanging in the rafters.