Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Subban Cleverly Retained

Great news right? Subban is signed.

That really is the beginning and end of it. Signed now, for two years. Good.

But the deal was intriguing too:

It is worth $5.75 million over two years (half a Markov). But Subban gets the pro rata of $2 million this year together with a $3.75 million payday next year.

Neither annual salary shows his worth (there's few universes where this guy should be paid less than Josh Gorges), but in the lopsided salary distribution, the parties found a way to get Subban more cash for the same cap hit. I wonder why they landed on this combination. After all, it could have been a cap circumventing $1.2 million and $4.55 million.

The term is key too. Two years leaves Subban an RFA after this contract (with arbitration next time). This is potentially a lot safer for a tough negotiation than a looming UFA deadline. Mind you, this UFA date still looms as the same date in the future, so it will be up to the next contract to bridge that gap.

Besides that, the summer of 2014 will be one of great potential renewal and it will be good for the Canadiens GM to have maximum flexibility in making his moves then. it will be good to know if Subban can work with Markov (in the past this was not a match made in heaven) and whether he can fit into a system with Markov and Diaz. It will be good too to know which players mesh well with those that are here for the long-term (of which I expect Subban is included). It's only a shame that some of the places where they will not have felxibility are perhaps not the cornerstones of a team.

But not everyone is positive on the deal. I take up the argument put forward by many, including Ryan Lambert (as found on The Score), the gist of which is to say: don't me so smug Habs fans, this deal cost the team something.

Indeed. The main point that his article seems to balance on is that Subban could have been had for less in 2017-18 (say) now than he will be had for when he next starts signing a contract. I think this argument has a lot of merit and its been most everyone who was siding with Subban on this's point from the beginning:

We know he is good, we know he will be good. Let's set this team up for the future.

And generally I still agree with that. I think that had Subban been given the term he sought, that some benefit would have come to the Canadiens in salary payout from 2014-15 on.

But I also think that this is more of a philosophical mistake than a practical one. It belies the Habs continuing build for the current year, and possibly the next, and does nothing to realistically evaluate the organization and judge its likely peak time. Practically speaking though, Subban's contract does not prevent the team from doing this in two years. We merely have to question why they would then if they didn't now.

I personally like to look at this whole theatre as one large game. Marc Bergevin just dumped the puck here and is going off on a line change. Sure, the most likely outcome is 18 minutes of hockey without scoring, bu perhaps a better player might have been able to keep possession and catch the other team on their change.

For me, it's mixed results with the new GM. His rash of coach hirings in the summer was the first move to cause question, and then he jumped this way and that. Subban is signed to a bridge contract because his peers on the team did the same two summers ago. But it neglects to consider that Subban is a peer and more to Pacioretty, as capable in his position now as he is now, not then. And what is the strategic plan for 6 years if 2 young stars get signed and another gets a third of contract?

The whole idea with getting a new GM was that this one would be the one who could commit to a plan, even absorb a little pain, and do the sensible thing to build with talent developped internally for a fistful of years where the team could really and truly challenge. I think we all thought Subban was a godsend for this plan when he emerged as he did from the second round. That he is not signed forever is only questioned for that reason.

A very convoluted way to say: Good, Subban's back. An intriguing deal, and I'm still not head over heels for our GM. Hopefully I'll be right, right and wrong.

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