Since the announcement of an agreement in principle between the NHL and the Players’ Association, Habs’ fans have had one thing on their minds:
How long before the Canadiens sign RFA defenseman P.K. Subban?
With the recent signing by the New York Rangers of Michael Del Zotto, who is represented by the same agent as Subban, Don Meehan, the comparables game has once again come front and centre. Del Zotto signed a two-year, $5.1 Million contract on January 13th, 2013.
There are many in the media who claim that Subban is using L.A. Kings’ defensive stalwart Drew Doughty, and his eight-year, $56 Million contract as a viable comparable.
That leaves a huge gap between those comparables alone ($4,450,000 per season). However, numbers can’t define the importance of P.K. Subban alone.
With the announcement by Habs’ GM Marc Bergavin that he has no intention of trading P.K. Subban, it concretizes his importance in the future plans of the Canadiens. After all, Subban was on the ice an average of 39.7% of the time last season.
The Stats Don’t Lie
If you want to talk about comparables, you need only look at four of the NHL’s youngest defensemen. For the purposes of this article, we added John Carlson of the Washington Capitals to the mix, along with Del Zotto, Doughty and Subban.
Strictly from an offensive perspective, Subban finished behind our other examples in goals with seven, although he had 29 assists, giving him second behind Del Zotto. If he and his agent want to use Drew Doughty as a primary comparable, it doesn’t bode well for P.K. Over the past three seasons, he’s averaged 20 points less than the Kings’ D-man. That said, his points-per-game is mere 0.03 behind Doughty, due to Subban’s limited use in his first NHL season.
In overall ice-time, Subban (24:17 per game) is a mere 36 seconds on average behind Doughty (24:53 per game). Subban is second among our four defensemen in terms of TOI on the power play and penalty killing. Michael Del Zotto (PP) and John Carlson (PK) lead those respective categories.
Last 20 Games May Be Subban’s Best Case
Using a smaller sample size from last season, that being the last 20 games of their respective seasons, Subban takes the lead over our four other defensemen in goals, assists and points (4-9-13). Doughty and Del Zotto were behind him with three goals, six assists and nine points respectively.
While Del Zotto led our group on the power play with an average of 4:35 TOI (Time On Ice) per game, P.K. was right behind him in second with 3:39 TOI per game. On the penalty kill, while Doughty had a TOI per game of 2:00, Subban had a whopping 3:39 TOI per game. Overall, Subban led everyone in overall TOI per game with an average of almost 26 minutes.
Top 10 Among His Peers
If you look at Subban’s overall ranking among his NHL peers, he is ranked sixth from the top 50 defensemen in the league from an offensive perspective, with an overall score of 723. Only Zdeno Chara (BOS), Shea Weber (NSH), Kevin Shattenkirk (STL), Dan Boyle (SJS) and Alex Pietrangelo (STL) are ranked ahead of him. Doughty ranked 26th, while Del Zotto ranked 14th.
So What Does He Deserve To Be Paid?
If you look at our comparibles, there are solid arguments from both sides of the coin. The Rangers have a much stronger supporting cast on defense for Del Zotto than the Canadiens have for Subban. P.K.’s importance is just as high to the Habs as that of Doughty to the Kings.
If Subban and Don Meehan want to be fair to everyone, including themselves, then an average salary of $4.5 Million is a reasonable number, in our opinion, to ask for. As far as length of term is concerned, with the wealth of defensive prospects in the Canadiens’ organization, signing Subban for more than three years would be a colossal mistake.
Ultimately, it’s a question of organizational importance…for Subban. Does he want to be part of the refit of the league’s most storied franchise, or does he want to think of himself first? Compare what you will, only time will really tell.