Failing to re-sign franchise defenseman and restricted free agent P.K. Subban before the lockout was not a mistake by the Montreal Canadiens.
In fact, not re-signing Subban before the work stoppage might actually turn out to be what's best for the franchise.
Subban was one of the notable RFAs who failed to agree to a new contract under the terms of the previous collective bargaining agreement before it expired on September 15.
Is Subban worth more than $3.5 million per season?
Depending on what the terms of the next CBA turn out to be, there's a good chance that the Canadiens will be able to save themselves some money by signing Subban under the new CBA, and not the old one.
The owners continue to look for a reduction of player salaries in their labor negotiations with the NHLPA thus far, and in the likely event that they get their wishes, Subban's next contract could be for less than what his fair market value is.
Even if the salary cap ceiling goes down in the next CBA, the Canadiens shouldn't have to worry about signing Subban to a new deal.
Montreal currently has $6,302,024 in cap space, according to CapGeek.com, and plenty of amnesty buyout candidates to consider if that becomes a method to get salary cap relief before the next season.
The Canadiens don't have to worry about fitting Subban's new contract under the cap, so there's no need for the team, or its fans, to panic over the fact that he hasn't signed yet.
A salary cap decrease would also make it tougher for teams to sign Subban to an offer sheet. Even without a cap decrease, a team would have to grossly overpay to sign the 23-year-old to an offer sheet, plus give up several draft picks as compensation. Don't expect any team to go this route.
Getting a deal done with Subban before the previous CBA's expiration would have been nice, but the Canadiens' chances of signing him long-term haven't taken a major hit with their failure to reach an agreement at this time.
I would even argue that the chances of him re-signing are the same as they've been for a while, and that's pretty high.
Judging by his on-ice attitude, Subban seems happy in Montreal. There doesn't seem to be any indication that he wants to leave the team. Last month, Subban told Dan Rosen of NHL.com:
"...I don't think there is any doubt in anybody's mind that I want to be a Montreal Canadien, so hopefully it gets done soon."
When the next CBA is finalized, and teams are able to sign their remaining free agents again, expect Subban to be one of the first to sign. The Canadiens will get a deal done, especially when there are many reasons why his departure would hurt the team.