PKSubban

 

PK Subban is going to be made a rich man this summer but what if the Canadiens had given him a long term deal two years ago?

 

The reality

 

In January 2013 PK Subban signed a two-year contract with the Canadiens after a short hold-out that extended a few games into the NHL season. The contract carried a cap hit of $2.875 million. The Canadiens opted for a bridge contract instead of a longer, more expensive deal that could have saved the team long-term.


What if?

 

How would history be different if the Canadiens and Subban agreed to a longer contract after the conclusion of the lockout? Andrew Berkshire examined two alternative scenarios in-depth back in July of last year while under the assumption that the contract that Subban will sign this summer will cost the Canadiens $8 million against the cap:

 

Year

Scenario 1 cap hit

Scenario 2 cap hit

Scenario 3 cap hit

2012-13

$2.875M

$5M

$6M

2013-14

$2.875M

$5M

$6M

2014-15

$8M

$5M

$6M

2015-16

$8M

$5M

$6M

2016-17

$8M

$5M

$6M

2017-18

$8M

$11.4

$6M

2018-19

$8M

$11.4

$12.5

2019-20

$8M

$11.4

$12.5

2020-21

$8M

$11.4

$12.5

2021-22

$8M

$11.4

$12.5

Average % of annual cap space

7.78%

8.81%

9.3%

 

The gist of it is that the alternative scenarios would have cost the Canadiens more immediately while offering savings in the middle years before ultimately costing the team a lot more down the line. It also shows the average cap payroll consumption over the next 10 years for each scenario. However, whether or not looking that far into the future should carry any weight is debatable.


Looking deeper into the bridge contract

 

The fact that Subban emerged as one of the best defensemen in the league over the last two years is what makes the bridge contract scenario more painful today. There is a good chance that he will enter the 2014-15 season with the highest cap hit among all NHL blueliners.

 

But was Subban's development likely to happen the way that it did? While it was very reasonable to expect some improvement, rising near the top of the league right away is a very difficult projection to make, especially for a defenseman where there is so much uncertainty.

 

Wouldn't it be more reasonable to expect more ups and downs like in Subban's first two NHL seasons? Even though he showed tons of promise, he lacked consistency in all areas which occasionally landed him in the coach's dog house. This could have easily turned into two more learning years instead of his rise to stardom.

 

Under this slower development curve, the contract negotiations of this summer would obviously be a lot different. Subban would still be due for a big raise, just not to the top of the pay scale and closer to what the post-lockout longer-term scenarios would have cost. This would have justified the two-year savings.


Fantasy spin

 

Clearly, time flows differently in fantasy hockey than it does in real life. Fantasy keeper leagues will only last a few years as changes of interest and life situations dictate the league's ability to stay open for business. Meanwhile, the NHL has been around for nearly a century. Money dictates that it will continue to be around for the foreseeable future.

 

With that in mind, we definitely have to ignore the later years of Berkshire's three Subban contract scenarios. It is simply not relevant in fantasy hockey to look that far into the future. Under scenarios 2 and 3, Subban would have a discounted cost for the next three years which would make him a bargain among the fantasy hockey superstars. Depending on the cap-league format, his value could range from the best defenseman to own to a cheaper version of Shea Weber.

 

The truth is that the bridge contract ultimately hurt Subban's value in cap leagues after two years of him being one of the best bargain players around. Instead of being an underpaid star heading into next season, he is now going to be paid like one.

 

However, stars are worth the money in cap leagues. The amount of production they provide from a single roster position cannot be denied. Subban's new contract is simply going to be the cost of doing business. To put his cross-format value in perspective, here is Subban's ranking among defensemen this year in various scoring categories:

 

Category

G

A

PIM

Hit

Blk

PPP

SOG

League Rank (D)

18

5

12

45

59

8

5

 

Subban offers excellent contributions across the board while not hurting your blueline corps in leagues that count hits and blocked shots despite being deployed primarily as an offensive player. He is not alone at the top of the fantasy rearguard heap and will probably not be the best value defender in the coming years. But he remains a guy that can be a reliable top producer for your team's blueline.

You need to login to post comments. Registration takes 5 seconds. See link at top left under "home"