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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Montreal Canadiens Top Priorities Part 2: P.K. Subban

Subban Essential in Habs Future Success

After identifying goaltender Carey Price as the Habs top priority, I was set to focus on power forward Max Pacioretty as the next in line.

My reasoning for this seemed simple. With prospects Nathan Beaulieu and Jared Tinordi just a year or two away from cracking the roster, GM Marc Bergevin may want to zero in on the future of the Habs forwards.

However, after putting more thought into it, locking down the dynamic defenseman seemed all too obvious. Subban plays the game with enough confidence to fill the visitors locker room as well as the Habs, and has the talent to back it up.

When given the okay, Subban can bring the crowd to it's feet with his end-to-end rushes. P.K. has the talent to circle back around to the oppositions blue line — untouched — if he doesn't like his options. Along with his skill, he has the energy to be the first man back in the event of a turnover.

His goal total went from 14 in 2010-11 to seven the next season, prompting many in Montreal to classify Subban as an overhyped, one year wonder.

Those kind of comments always amuse me. A one year wonder after only two seasons? Only in Montreal.

Despite scoring only half as many goals as his previous year, the flashy blue liner still finished the season with only two fewer points than the 2010-11 season with 36.

Points aside, what made last year an impressive season for Subban was the jump in his plus/minus column. With the absence of Andrei Markov, Subban averaged two more minutes of ice time per game — 24:18 vs 24:16 — and still managed to improve his +/- from -9 to +18. Not a bad climb during a season in which the Canadiens, as a team, finished with a -14 differential.

With time, Subban's talent will continue to progress as he is a true competitor who will push himself to be better, making him one of the Canadiens top priorities during the off season.

With the Ottawa Senators locking down Erik Karlsson for seven years at an annual cap hit of $6.5 million, it wouldn't be a shock to see Subban sign for somewhere in the neighborhood of $5-5.5 million, providing he inks with the Habs long term.

Subban however, may prefer to sign a one year deal in order to prove that he is worth more.

If the choice was yours, how many years would you offer Subban, and for how much?

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Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com You can follow Sean on Twitter.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

6 comments:

Subban was +9 in 2011/12 and -8 in 2010/2011...otherwise nice article

I think a 2 year 6M deal for Subban seems logical.
By the end of that contract we will have Markov off the books and likely 1 or 2 young d-men ready for regular NHL duty. Then he will get his 6M+ long term deal assuming he continues to progress.

This year we need to sign Price to a long term deal but we can't do both in the same season.

@anon
Thanks for reading! As I was writing the piece I looked up the info and must have accidentally mixed up his 2010-11 +/- .... As for his 11-12, not sure how I added the 1 in there to make it 18. Thanks for pointing it out!

4 years at $4.0 seems fair

as an RFA he aint go a lot of choice does he. Unless someone wants to pony up bigger salary and picks. And salary would then just be matched by Habs.

As you look through the NHL there are 3 positions that are becoming harder and harder to fill because the league is watered down due to expansion: Goaltending, Centre, and (offensive) Defensemen. Rightly so CP is 1st priority. Anyone following the HABS know our lack of a bonafied #1 Centre has dogged us for a decade or more. So that leaves us with Defence. Markov is (or maybe was) the deft passing, PP quarterback that filled this role. PK is in my opinion the heir apparent but may not have the top end talent as Markov has/had. Ottawa realized these players are hard to find and locked Karlsson up till 29. Again PK may not be Karlsson but he has offensive defenseman traits and has been playing pretty solidly on defence. If we don't lock him up all we do is give another team a hard to find commodity. Some of you may say I'm enamored with PK but I'm looking at this from a team to team perspective and teams like the Leafs, Tampa, Calgary, Edmonton, just to name a few, would kill to have PK. The other thing is PK does have a strong team mindset even though people don't see it. He's buddies with Price, Max and a few other of the younger guys. I say let them grow and win together. The room is stronger with PK there. Lock him up for 5 at $5-5.5 or 6-7 at $4.5.

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