Montreal Canadiens: 5 Reasons $5.5 Million Offer Is Not Enough for P.K. Subban
While reports that Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was offered $5.5 million over two years by the Habs have yet to be completely confirmed (via Yahoo! Sports), one thing is for certain: He deserves more.
Subban may not yet be an elite defenseman at the NHL level, and he may have his share of flaws, but all things considered, he may very well end up of being Montreal’s most valuable player this year.
Granted, following last year’s debacle, standards are relatively low, and he may not have to break the bank in terms of production to achieve that goal. All the same, general manager Marc Bergevin may end up having to break the bank to keep Subban around.
Here are five reasons that the Habs’ reported offer of $5.5 million is not fair enough compensation for Subban.
Tobias Enstrom, Jason Garrison, Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Goligoski, John-Michael Liles, Lubomir Visnovsky…all these players have a few things in common:
1) They’re each older than P.K. Subban’s 23 years of age,
2) They each make more money than $2.75 million per season,
3) They each played for better teams last year than the Habs (although, to be fair, that’s true of most every offensive defenseman in the league), and
4) They each had worse seasons, statistically speaking (including plus/minus), than Subban did.
When Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green gets an average salary of $6,083,333 over the next three years after making $5.25 million and posting seasons of just 24 and 7 points, something, needless to say, is wrong.
Whether that something is general manager George McPhee or the current collective bargaining agreement, it’s clear something’s broken…you know, aside from Green himself.
The dude is paid to do one simple thing, and God knows it’s not to play defense, so it’s a downright shame to see a defenseman like Subban get the shaft when his first two full seasons with Montreal have been infinitely more impressive (36 points this past season and 38 when he was a rookie).
Now, I’m not saying Subban should be paid as much money as Green. He’s not worth that much. Few people, excluding Green, are worth that much. At this point, Green isn’t worth much, period.
But Subban is worth more than $2.75 million a year, at least when considering the NHL and Habs’ current landscape.
He’s Montreal’s No. 1 Defenseman
Now, it’s true Subban is not a No. 1 defenseman based on skill alone, at least not yet. But, looking at Montreal’s defense corps for next season, it’s clear that he doesn’t need to step up his game all that much to fill the role with the Habs.
So in shambles is Montreal’s defense that the team’s highest-paid blue-liner is a bionic man from the waist down. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is “Yes, we do have the technology to create him a bionic woman.” Not me personally, but I’m sure someone does if the need ever arises.
Of course, Andrei Markov’s two surgically repaired knees may not technically make him a $6-million man, but he is a $5.75-million man according to his contract, and that’s pretty gosh darn close.
Unfortunately, unlike the $6-million man, Markov’s operations won’t likely allow him to skate at great speeds or jump all that high or far. In my mind at least, he’ll honestly be lucky to brace from the force of receiving a pass on the blue line without collapsing in pain, but maybe that’s just me.
Moving on, Montreal’s second-highest-paid defenseman? One Tomas Kaberle at $4.25 million per season, who was such a free-agent bust with the Carolina Hurricanes that GM Jim Rutherford practically gave him away for free.
I mean, Jaroslav Spacek does have some value, don’t get me wrong. But mainly for comic relief. And he was destined for unrestricted free agency anyway.
If Subban had accepted that hypothetical $5.5-million offer, he would have ranked no higher than fourth on Montreal’s defensive payroll, right below Josh Gorges, and I don’t think I need to make fun of Gorges for most everyone reading to realize he isn’t a No. 1 defenseman.
Frankly, I don’t want to. He’s an on-ice warrior who leaves it all out there every single night, and he deserves better. But even he has to admit defensive specialists take backseats relative to their offensive counterparts. And I’ll leave it at that.
Everyone has heard of the sophomore slump. Most recently, Anaheim Duck Cam Fowler succumbed to it, with both his goal and point totals going down drastically from the 10 and 40 he scored two seasons ago.
I’m not saying Subban got through his sophomore season completely unscathed, but while he scored just seven goals compared to the 14 in his rookie season, his plus/minus showed incredible improvement, and he only scored two fewer points. To me, that’s a win and an indication that Subban can bounce back.
At the very least, we know what to expect from Subban right now…10 goals (give or take), about 35 points, and one or two public relations incidents stirred up by the local media seeking a bigger story than there really is.
I mean, we get it: He likes celebrating goals. How controversial. I also hear, FYI, that he likes to eat food when he’s hungry and go to sleep at night when he’s tired. You media types can keep those little factoids in your back pocket for now, but don’t wait too long or you might get scooped.
Of course, I’m not psychic, and I can’t possibly write here and now that Subban is going to have a better season this year. I will say all signs point to that being the case. Even if he doesn’t score as many points as last year, points alone don’t tell the whole story.
Overall Worth to His Team
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has had only one superstaresque season. Since 2009-2010, when he scored 59 points, his production has gone down each year to the point that he notched the same 36 as Subban did last season. Subban also had a better plus/minus figure (plus-9 to minus-2).
Still, no one can convince me that Subban is as good a defenseman as Doughty, because it’s like comparing apples to pears (Doughty’s the pear, FYI; I think he’s yet to lose his baby fat).
Did Subban ever get nominated for a James Norris Memorial Trophy? Did Subban ever win a Stanley Cup? Is Subban worth a salary-cap hit of $7 million. No, no and most certainly not.
Even though right now Subban is poised to hold out just as Doughty did last season, you can be sure the stars aren’t aligning for him to get that kind of money (and, no, Montreal won’t win the Stanley Cup, either; I unfortunately don’t need to be a psychic to make that matter-of-fact statement).
But that doesn’t mean he’s not worth more than the reported $2.75-million-per-year offer.
The bottom line is Doughty’s worth to his team and Subban’s to the Habs transcend statistics. Doughty’s far from the heart and soul of his team (that would be Dustin Brown), but he is exceptionally valuable, and there’s no denying that.
As much as he tried, GM Dean Lombardi couldn’t and eventually caved by giving Doughty the money he was seeking. It constituted one of the rare instances of the ends justifying the means. The Kings get far in the playoffs on the back of goalie Jonathan Quick, but they don’t win it all without Doughty.
With Subban boasting a very real shot at being Montreal’s most valuable player this year and for many years to come, Bergevin should cave as well. I mean, he already has once.
Price Makes More
Here’s one last comparable. Carey Price now makes an average of $6.5 million and will do so for the next six seasons.
Some may argue in reference to my last entry that comparing a goalie to a defenseman is like comparing an apple to a grape (you try finding a fruit common to British Columbia that connotes excessive alcohol consumption and partying, all right?). Bear with me, though:
Both Price and Subban are around 24 years old. Both play for the same team. Both are Montreal’s most valuable players at their respective positions. Both have won the same amount of NHL awards/Stanley Cups.
And, yet, while Bergevin deemed it acceptable to show Price the money, he and Subban are reportedly relatively far apart negotiating the terms of a new deal.
There are several possible arguments as to why this is fair. Price is on his third pro contract and Subban his second. Additionally, they each may be Montreal’s most valuable player at their respective positions, but Price is more valuable overall, etc.
In regard to the first, generally speaking, defensemen develop a lot more slowly relative to other positions (and goalies, exiting their prime, decline a lot more quickly).
As such, the fact that Subban has played as well as he has at a mere 23 years of age speaks volumes as to the kind of player he will be a similar six years down the road. By giving him more money now and signing him to a longer term, which is what he’s reportedly seeking, Montreal will likely come out ahead.
In regard to the latter, yes, there is only one goalie on any one team, and there are six defensemen, meaning, technically, Price is more valuable than Subban. It’s simple math.
So is this: 26 is less than 28, 26 being the number of Price’s victories last year and 28 the number of losses (it’s actually 39, taking into account overtime/shootout losses).
Price has talent. His previous 38-28-6 season is proof positive of this fact. However, there’s little denying that he was given his new, huge contract following what was by and large a mediocre season.
Call Subban’s season disappointing if you must, but it was still pretty decent. And decency, not mediocrity, should be rewarded. Your move, Bergevin.
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