The latest on P.K. Subban, Ryan O’Reilly, Stephen Weiss and more.
TORONTO SUN: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Washington Capitals GM George McPhee is feeling the heat for his club’s winless start to this season…There are “whispers” the Colorado Avalanche are offering unsigned center Ryan O’Reilly around the league to see what they can get. Asking price is a young forward and second round pick…Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is working the phones to find help for his injury-ravaged club…LA Kings have been sniffing around for a replacement for defenseman Matt Greene, out for the year to a back injury…There’s talk the Florida Panthers could shop center Stephen Weiss, a UFA this summer, by the trade deadline because they don’t have the money to re-sign him…If the Montreal Canadiens decide to shop P.K. Subban, the Winnipeg Jets could join the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and NY Rangers among the potential suitors for his services…Canucks GM Mike Gillis insists he’s not moving Roberto Luongo until he gets his asking price. Garrioch doubts Luongo would approve a trade to Edmonton, while the Panthers won’t deal for him unless Gillis takes some salary back. Maybe a desperate GM in a market like Philadelphia or Washington might be willing to meet Gillis’ asking price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McPhee may be feeling pressure but it’s only the first week of this season. Still, if the Caps don’t turn things around soon, McPhee could be forced to shake things up…Every report out of Denver claims the Avalanche aren’t shopping O’Reilly, but some pundits there suggest they eventually could move him…Holmgren’s already been quite busy, adding Mike Knuble this week to his roster. While he may have some other irons in the fire, he’ll probably be patient and allow his club more time to improve…The Kings may be looking around for an experienced blueliner, but I expect they’ll also remain patient for now…Expect the Panthers to deny Garrioch’s report they might be unable to afford Weiss, but if the team keeps struggling, that could stoke the trade rumors about the center…Wouldn’t surprise me if the Red Wings and Flyers contacted the Habs about Subban, but the Jets already have two puck-moving blueliners in Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom, while the Rangers already have considerable blueline depth…The Flyers have limited cap space and would want the Canucks to take back a lot of salary, so I don’t see how they could be a serious suitor this season for Luongo. Maybe this summer if they were to buyout Ilya Bryzgalov. The Capitals, on the other hand, could afford Luongo’s salary, but we don’t know if he would approve a trade there.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons wonders why the Maple Leafs haven’t sent an expensive offer sheet to P.K. Subban, if for no other reason than to put the Canadiens into salary cap difficulty by forcing them to match the offer. Simmons also suggested the possibility Subban could sit out the year, but noted the Habs management currently aren’t interest in shopping the blueliner…He also reports Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and his long-term contract are available via trade…
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reason the Leafs and other division/conference rivals tend not to employ the tactic Simmons suggested regarding Subban is because it’s frowned upon by their peers around the league. Also, only one player has ever been successfully signed away from a club via offer sheet. That’s a deterrent, especially after the cost-conscious Nashville Predators matched the Flyers rich offer last summer for Shea Weber…Coyotes GM Don Maloney has said he’s not shopping Yandle, considering him a key part of his defense corps.
PHILLY.COM: Frank Seravalli examined the options for Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to bolster his depleted defense corps. He doubts Holmgren will pitch an offer sheet to Montreal’s P.K. Subban, especially after the Predators last summer matched his offer for Shea Weber. While Holmgren could try to acquire Subban via trade, Seravalli wonders what he could offer up in return which wouldn’t hurt the Flyers depth.
TSN.CA: The Canadiens are reportedly standing firm on their offer to Subban of two-years, $5.1 million, which breaks down as $2.2 million for this season, $2.9 million for next season. The two sides are expected to meet again on Monday.
CBC.CA: Subban’s contract talks were among the topics discussed during last night’s intermission ‘Hot Stove” segment. Glenn Healy believes Subban, a restricted free agent coming out of his entry-level contract with no arbitration rights, has “zero leverage” in these negotiations. Healy also claimed some GMs around the league have contacted the Habs inquiring into Subban’s trade status, but have been told he’s not available. PJ Stock noted the Colorado Avalanche were saying the same thing about Ryan O’Reilly. Healy also pointed out if an RFA like Subban and O’Reilly goes unsigned this season, he “loses that year”; in other words, he’s no closer to UFA status and no closer to arbitration. Kevin Weekes, meanwhile, said all the GMs he spoke to around the league cannot believe the Habs tactic on this, but Healy pointed out this is the one time a team has strong leverage over a free agent and is making the most of it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting take by Healy that Subban and O’Reilly wouldn’t be any closer to arbitration or UFA status if they miss this season. Almost sounds as though those rights get “tolled” forward by a year if they sit out this season. While it’s understandable for the Habs and Avs to exploit this leverage they have with Subban and O’Reilly, it could also alienate the pair from their respective teams. Should those teams’ hardline tactics succeed, they could potentially lead to more difficult contract negotiations in two-three years time, and almost guarantee Subban’s and O’Reilly’s departures via the UFA market.
I also believe the Canadiens offer to Subban to be too low. Some fans suggest Michael Del Zotto is a comparable, but Subban is more valuable to the Canadiens than Del Zotto is to a deeper NY Rangers team. My guess is if the Habs came up in their offer to Subban to $3.5-$4 million per season on a two-three year offer, he’d take it. That being said, it appears the Habs aren’t willing to do that, so Subban might not have much choice but to either accept it, or stage a holdout in hopes the Habs bend or trade him to a team willing to pay him that amount. Considering how few RFA players (zero) have employed that tactic since 2005, Subban might have no option but accept the Habs offer. We’ll see…
Some fans have berated Subban, considering him spoiled and selfish, but those remarks ignore the reality of the situation. The NHL is a marketplace where players earn millions of dollars. Chiding them because they won’t take less than their peers is just white noise which has no bearing upon the reality of their world. A player like Subban isn’t going to just meekly accept whatever the Canadiens offer. He and his agent are going to negotiate for what they, not the fans, believe is his true value to the Canadiens.
DENVER POST: Adrian Dater suggests Avalanche fans should start contemplating a future without center Ryan O’Reilly, as he and the club remain about $8 million apart in contract talks. Dater believes the reason for this situation is the Avs management is being stubborn and unwilling to meet O’Reilly half-way, listing several former Avs (Chris Simon, Valeri Kamensky, Sandis Ozolinsh, Chris Drury, Scott Young, Matt Hendricks, Alex Tanguay, Peter Mueller) who were shipped out by management over the years when they tried to fight for more money.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This situation is similar to Subban’s. O’Reilly did have some leverage by playing in the KHL, but he recently terminated his contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk to return to North America for treatment for a foot injury,which now leaves him in the same boat as Subban.