Only one day after an arbitration hearing, the Montreal Canadiens announced defenseman P.K. Subban has signed an eight-year, $72 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the “dangerous game” I believed the Canadiens were playing with Subban. Following yesterday’s hearing it was widely assumed negotiations between the two sides had broken off and they would allow an arbiter to determine Subban’s salary for next season. Evidently, that wasn’t the case, as the two sides had until the arbiter handed down a decision on Sunday to continue negotiations.
Subban’s new deal is worth $9 million per season, though it remains to be seen if that’s a straight $9 million per season or if the deal is front-loaded in accordance with the CBA’s variance rules. Still awaiting word if it also comes with a no-trade or no-movement clause. If it’s a straight $9 million per season, that annual salary makes him the third-highest paid defenseman in terms of actual salary this season, while his cap hit is the highest for NHL blueliners.
Quite frankly, the Canadiens had no choice. Subban is the most exciting player to don a Habs jersey since Guy Lafleur. He’s also their best defenseman and, along with Carey Price, their biggest star. They couldn’t risk creating a situation where they would be forced to trade him or risk losing him for nothing in 2016 to free agency.
Subban’s critics will argue he’s not worth that salary. I disagree. Subban is among the NHL’s brightest stars. His $9 million annually now is considerably less than the $12 million annually he would’ve commanded on the open market in two years time, especially with the salary cap expected to significantly increase by 2016. By retaining one of their biggest stars, the Canadiens have signaled to their fans and the league that they’re serious about building a winner.
The move comes with salary cap consequences, as the Habs now have over $58 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16, with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher eligible for restricted free agent status. However, with the cap expected to reach $74 million for 2015-16 and Galchenyuk and Gallagher coming off entry-level deals, the Canadiens shouldn’t have much difficulty re-signing those players and filling out the rest of their roster.