Arbitration is a nasty little process. Teams have to argue why their players aren’t worth what they think they’re worth. Players have to suffer through insulting lowball offers, because that’s how the game is played.
P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens are playing that game now, with the star defenseman’s arbitration hearing looming on Friday. According to Elliotte Friedman, Subban is seeking $8.5 million. That would make him the third-highest paid defenseman in the NHL next season in base salary, behind Shea Weber (an offer-sheet inflated $14 million) and Ryan Suter ($11 million) and ahead of Dion Phaneuf ($8 million).
The Canadiens are seeking $5.25 million, the aforementioned lowball offer. That would slot Subban’s base salary in-between Marc Staal ($5.45 million) and Paul Martin ($5 million), two very good defensemen who still aren’t qualified to shine Subban’s Norris.
The bigger news is that the Canadiens are asking for a 1-year award, which would mean we all do this dance against next summer, with Subban even closer to UFA status in Summer 2016.
By all accounts, the sides are going to get something done before Friday. One assumes they meet somewhere in the middle on annual salary: $7 million to $6.5 million, for example.
But what does Subban want? Does he forego a UFA windfall and sign longer-term? Does he bridge directly to that UFA status with a 2-year deal? Or do the Canadiens get him on consecutive one-year deals before he could go to market?