Without a contract P.K. Subban remained in Toronto Sunday as the Canadiens opened their brief training camp at the Brossard training centre.
Subban is in what hockey insiders like to call the “gap” stage of his career.
The “gap contract” is a contract signed when a player moves out of his three year entry level status into that two year period of restricted free agency which eventually progress to “unrestricted” status. The system is designed to control the escalation of players salaries through the first five years of their NHL career.
Through his agent Don Meehan , Subban is trying to do is circumvent the “gap” by going directly from the entry level to fully blown long term contract. All of this is only rumour but, considering the drawn-out nature of the negotiation, we can safely assume that Subban is looking to completely bye-pass the restricted free agent stage of his career.
Nice try. But it’s not going to fly. It might have, had another team produced an offer sheet to Subban but the league’s other twenty-nine teams have been silent.
To understand the Canadiens hardline on the new Subban contract you need to look at their own history in dealing with retricted free agency ……
…..Carey Price‘s two year “gap” contract gave him 2.5 million and three million dollars respectively. In July, as an unrestricted free agent GM Marc Bergevin signed him to a well-earned a six year 41 million dollar deal.
…..In 2011, Max Pacioretty signed a restricted contract for 1.5 million dollars and 1.75 million which will expire at the end of this season. In August, the Canadiens gave him a six year extension worth a total of 31 million which will kick in next season.
By their contracts, I think we safely assume the Canadiens consider both players to be franchise cornerstones. Subban, I am sure will ultimately belong in that category too…… but he’s not there yet. He remains a work in progress and restricted free agent money of the kind offered Price and Pacioretty is completely in order.
Considering the game’s new financial reality, it’s my guess that, unless Subban is prepared to take a big discount in order to secure a long term deal, he’s going to have to live with two years at between 2.5 to three millions per season.
So, Subban sits in Toronto stalemated by a system that, rightly or wrongly,is designed to limit a player’s power of negotiation, for the first five years of a career.
His time will come. Just not right now.
Update - Don Meehan also represents Michael Del Zotto, the Rangers highest scoring defenceman. His situation mirrored that of Subban. Sunday morning Del Zotto agreed to a two year gap contract worth 2.55 million per season.