Montreal Canadiens: The Pros and Cons of Re-Signing P.K. Subban
When he is on the ice for the Montreal Canadiens, carrying the puck and getting up to top speed, he is a formidable presence.
He also has an explosive shot, one that has hit the mark in crucial situations for the Habs during his first three years in the NHL.
None was bigger than the playoff goal he scored in the final minutes of Game 7 during a 2010-2011 first-round playoff series between the Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
The Bruins had taken a late 3-2 lead in the third period on a goal by Chris Kelly, but the Bruins were whistled for a late penalty that gave Montreal a chance to activate its power play.
Subban was positioned at the left point, and when he received a pass directly on the tape of his stick from Tomas Plekanec, he met it full force with a slap shot that went over Tim Thomas's catching glove and tied the score.
It would have been a great story for that tying goal to propel the Canadiens to an overtime win, but Boston's Nathan Horton had no interest in that narrative and scored to push the Bruins to the second round and ultimately the Stanley Cup.
But when a player is capable of scoring a huge goal like that—particularly on the road—you have to bring him back when his contract is up, right?
Subban, 23, became a restricted free agent at the end of the 2011-12 season. It seems likely that the Canadiens will bring him back and he will remain a key part of their team.
He has scored 76 points in 160 games and has tallied 14 power-play goals.
However, while the Canadiens and Subban's agent, Don Meehan, were talking before the NHL closed its doors and locked players out Sept. 15, a deal was not done by closing time.
In the final hours of the lockout, Meehan and the Canadiens are both preparing their strategy on a possible new deal for the controversial defenseman.
There's not a lot of time to waste once the NHLPA's vote is announced and the lockout formally ends. Just a few days after that, the NHL will commence its schedule.
Subban will either sign a short- or long-term contract with the Canadiens or get traded.
Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin has to decide whether the physically gifted Subban is a winning player who will become one of the franchise's cornerstones or whether he is simply a flashy player unlikely to become consistent enough to depend on.
There's evidence on both sides.
On the positive side, Subban is a solid skater who can carry the puck well out of his own end and transition from defense to offense.
He has a powerful right-handed shot and has shown the ability to come through in clutch situations.
He wants to be out on the ice when the game is on the line.
However, it's not all positive for Subban.
He is a cheeky player who has been known to take cheap shots at his opponents and will get called for costly and unnecessary penalties. New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has accused him of making "dirty" plays (source: NHL.com).
He is a first-rate trash talker who agitates opponents. Former Flyer Mike Richards (now with the defending champion Los Angeles Kings) was annoyed by Subban when he played against him during his run in Philadelphia because he did not play the game with enough "respect" for his opponents (source: AOLnews.com).
He is not always dependable on the ice and makes mistakes, but despite his turnovers, talent scout Christopher Boucher called him the Canadiens' best skater and best defenseman.
Subban is not a perfect player and his natural energy and enthusiasm are going to draw the attention of the media and fans.
He appears to be a player who is a distraction at times and a trade could bring the Canadiens quite a bit in return.
However, on balance, he has too much talent and potential to let go. At his age, the Canadiens have every reason to expect him to become a more mature player in the future and it seems likely he will be able to refine his game and possibly take it to All-Star level.
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