Saturday night, PK Subban did something no Montreal Canadiens rearguard has done since Chris Chelios in 1989, he won the James Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. With just one year left on the two year deal he signed at the start of this season, it’s natural to start wondering what type of deal Subban will land when he and GM Marc Bergevin renegotiate his contract.
Ryan Suter made headlines last season when Minnesota signed him to a 13-year, $98 million contract, a deal that expires when Suter turns 40. The rearguard proved his worth by turning in a fantastic season for the Wild, finishing just shy of Subban is the Norris voting. The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs tweeted out the breakdown of this year’s voting, which had Suter finishing just 36 points and 1 first place vote behind Subban.
— Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) June 15, 2013
Does that mean Subban will be making upwards of $7 million a year to stay in Montreal for the foreseeable future? That certainly seems possible, but there are other comparables for Subban’s next
contract as well. Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson signed a 7-year, $6.5 million contract after taking home the Norris in 2012. The Canadiens might consider themselves lucky to get off on such friendly terms. Subban is a year older than the Senators blueliner and plays a similar game offensively, but PK also brings a physical element that Karlsson lacks.
The biggest current cap hit for a defenseman is that of Suter’s former teammate, Shea Weber. Even though Suter was an unrestricted free agent last Summer and Subban will still be restricted when his current contract ends, that might not necessarily keep his price down. Weber was a restricted free agent as well when he signed his last contract, but an offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers locked Weber into a 14-year $110 million contract.
Subban’s contract can fall into any of these ranges, as CJAD’s Abe Hefter said, “PK Subban is in the driver’s seat.” But unlike Hefter’s tweet suggests, Subban is not in the driver’s seat because he won the Norris trophy, he’s in the driver’s seat because he is one of just a handful of elite defensemen in the league, winning the Norris is simply validation.
— Abe Hefter (@hefteronthehabs) June 17, 2013
The length and value of the contract Subban will sign next is almost entirely up to him at this point. While Bergevin was being heralded for getting a good deal and not caving in to the pressure of a star player sitting on the sidelines after negotiations ended in January, Subban proved something as well in those talks, he showed that he has the patience to wait for a deal of his liking.
Subban and Bergevin will likely be spending much of the next year trying to finalize a long-term deal, only now, the sooner Subban’s new contract is signed the better it will be for Bergevin. This time around, the longer Subban holds out, the more difficult it will be for Bergevin to keep his price down.