The Montreal Canadiens should have signed star defenseman P.K. Subban to a long-term contract extension when he was a restricted free agent last season, because it’s likely going to cost a lot more to re-sign him now.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin stood firm in negotiations before the 2012-2013 season. He signed Subban to a team-friendly deal worth $5.75 million over two seasons as last year’s lockout-shortened season began.
For the Canadiens to extend Subban again, though, they might have to make him the highest-paid defenseman in the NHL.
“Negotiations are ongoing. There is no real hard news to report there other than we know Dion Phaneuf signed a long-term deal with the Maple Leafs worth $7 million a year,” TSN’s Bob McKenzie said on the Jan. 8 edition of Insider Trading. “P.K. Subban’s asking price will be somewhere from $8 million to $9 million a year. I am sure the Canadiens will not be thrilled about that, and I suspect it’s going to be tough sledding for some time to get this deal done.”
Subban, last season’s Norris Trophy winner, is arguably the premier offensive defenseman in the league and recently was named to Canada’s men’s hockey roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He’s tallied 33 points (seven goals, 26 assists) in 44 games and ranks fourth in the league in scoring among defensemen. He’s also posted 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) on the power play.
Montreal would be wise to get Subban signed before free agency starts in early July. If he’s able to become an restricted free agent, the team risks him signing an offer sheet with a rival club.