Perhaps the biggest decision to be made by Marc Bergevin this summer will be what to pay current restricted free agents and future franchise cornerstones Carey Price and P.K. Subban. Both will demand huge raises from their current salaries, but with future CBA and salary cap uncertainty it is important to get them signed to the most modest deals possible. A year from now Desharnais and Pacioretty will be looking for similar raises and all four need to fit in as they are the future core of this team.
Subban has just finished his second season with the Habs and is coming off his $875,000 entry level contract. He led the team in time on ice this past season and with Markov injured nearly all year he took over as the undisputed number one D on this team. In his two NHL seasons he has showed nearly limitless offensive potential, with season of 14 goals and 38 points as a rookie followed up by 7 goals and 36 points as a sophomore. Also, regardless of what most media will have you believe, he is very solid in his own end, as shown by his heavy minutes all season with Josh Gorges playing against other teams top players and finishing with a plus minus of plus 9 on the third worst team in the league.
Looking around the league for comparisons to find Subban’s value as an RFA, it would appear he should fall somewhere in between Tyler Myers monster deal with the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Johnson’s deal that was signed while he was a member of the L.A. Kings.
Myers signed his extension after his second year in the league and it will kick in next season. In his first two seasons with the Sabres he had a Calder Trophy winning season with 11 goals, 48 points and a plus 13. His second season he scored 10 more goals and put up 37 points with an even plus minus. Also not to be overlooked is his Chara-like size of 6 feet and 8 inches tall and nearly 230 pounds which allows him to shut down the best of the best in the NHL. Myers then signed a seven year deal at 5.5 million dollars per year at the young age of 21 years old.
Jack Johnson played four years with the Kings before signing his seven year extension that pays him $4,357,000 per year. His first two seasons were underwhelming with consecutive eleven point seasons before posting very similar numbers to P.K.’s in his next two seasons. Johnson signed his deal as a 24 year old and Subban is currently just 22. Also Johnson was a career minus 73 after four years compared to P.K.’s career plus 1.
Looking at the contracts signed recently by Johnson and Myers, I would expect Subban to fall somewhere in between the two. I see him signing a long term deal, near seven years, at a yearly cap hit of five million dollars.
As for Carey Price’s next deal, it is impossible to overestimate his value to this team. As Bergevin said himself the day he became GM, when you have a goalie like Price on your team, you are already ahead of plenty of other franchises. Often criticized early in his career, he has career numbers of 2.56 GAA and .916 SV%. His best season came in 2010-11 when he posted 38 wins along with a 2.35 GAA and .923 SV%. This past season he had a 2.43 and .916 in yet another solid season.
Two goalies who had similar seasons before signing extensions were Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury and Carolina’s Cam Ward.
Fleury signed his deal after posting his best numbers to date with a 2.33 GAA and .921 SV%. He only started 35 games in the regular season due to injury but followed that up with a tremendous playoffs and a run to the Stanley Cup final, which was lost to the Detroit Red Wings. He then signed a seven year extension at five million per year.
Wars signed his extension after a nearly identical season to Price’s most recent. What made Ward worth more than his regular season numbers suggest were his two playoff appearances. He won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe Trophy in his rookie season and in his next playoff appearance, went to the Conference Finals before losing to the Penguins. Ward signed a six year deal with Carolina worth 6.3 million per year.
Looking at these deals around the league it would be easy to suggest Price is worth at minimum a long term deal at five million per year. He had a great series last season against the Bruins but his playoff resume is not as polished as Ward’s and Fleury’s at the time of their deals. He did shut out the Bruins twice as a rookie including one in game seven, but the others were major parts of Stanley Cup winners or finalists.
I see Price signing a long term deal as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Subban who are good friends sign deals that are exact same length. This would mean a six or seven year deal at nearly six million dollars per year.
It is extremely important for Bergevin to lock up both of these guys long term. It would come as quite a relief for Habs fans to hear that these two will be doing their patented post game handshake after each win for nearly the next decade.