I understand the emotions of a new hockey season, and I can relate to those that are upset about a certain 23 year-old turning down perfectly good money to play a game on ice.
But in the past day, the rhetoric has taken a turn for the worse. The reaction to Subban's verbose response to Stubbs' question: "why aren't you signed yet?" Some of the media and talking heads on RDS in particular have come out in force to detract from PK Subban and make the claim that the little guy hasn't accomplished anything yet.
In the world of the Canadiens Hall of Famers and Stanley Cup ring closets, it's hard to stack up to the Yvon Lamert's of the world, but let's take the Cup out of the equation. is it really fair to say the 23 year-old veteran of 2 full NHL campaigns has accomplished nothing.
Gaston Therrien, sage that he is, was quite adamant in the argument, noting that PK may one day score 15-20 goals a year, but that he is absolutely not there yet (14 in 2011 was close, though). He claims that the only leg PK has to stand on is ice time.
I think they're all quite wrong actually.
First of all, let's talk about ice time. PK was the overall ice time leader for the Canadiens last season. He was second in even strength minutes to Josh Gorges, first in PP minutes and in a virtual tie for fourth in SH minutes. He is not kept out of any one part of the game (like Gill or Gorges who topped him in the SH minutes) and was counted on by the coaches whatever the situation.
I think it would be fair to say that last year he was the de facto #1 defenceman on the team. At the age of 22. The year before he was foist into the #2 role (#1 later in the season) after some injuries.
If it was ice time alone, he would merit more than Josh Gorges. His versatility the trump card to Gorges seniority. The number of minutes he played (nearly 1000 more than the #3 Dman from last year) should not be so easily cast aside. It's a major achievement for a 22 year-old to post those numbers in the top league in the world, especially at his position.
All this, and I haven't even recounted his succes during those minutes.
Want to know how good Subban is? At ES last year, he was on for 2.77 GF/60 minutes to 2.36 GA/60. So he's a very positive influence on the ice. If he played the entire season in 82 games without penalty situations, that would be a team with 227 GF and 194 against (Rangerish). Furthermore, his ES numbers improved from his solid rookie season numbers (2.25 and 2.57, for and against). To say he accomplished nothing in taking more responsibility and improving at both ends with a worse team is a bit of a thin argument.
I mentioned his versatility. Despite the fact that what is killing him in this negotiation is the lack of PP prowess. he still has something on that line of his resume. Last season, he would be on the ice for 5.51 GF/60. A rough calculation I do with these numbers (assuming a successful PP is 1 minute long on average) means that he was good for about a 17% efficiency rating while on the ice. Not great perhaps, but considering how few on the team exceeded that number, and that the actual PP was 14.3%, it's not too too shabby. The year before he was even better, with 7.33 GF/60 (22%).
The area where he gets by far the least credit, however is in the defensive end. He has paced the supposed stalwart of the D, Josh Gorges, in each of his season thus far. On the PK, PK has actually been a consistent and surprising force. We all surely remember how he was given the task of shutting down Ovechkin in his very earliest days. Since that debut, he has continued to shine in a blanket role. Last season on the PK, Subban was on the ice for a mere 3.40 GA/60. The season before 3.38 GA/60. This is simply outstanding. Both seasons he was the best (or equal best performer among defencemen on the team in that regard, all while carrying one of the larger loads (and without mentioning the fact he was an NHL rookie defenceman one of those years).
No, PK Subban has not put up the stats that Erik Karlsson did last year in Ottawa, and he has admittedly not scored over 40 points like Tyler Myers did. But he has just done just about everything else one could hope of a first and second year defenceman in proving his worth.
The Canadiens are in the luxurious position of owning low expectations for the team, a solid group of offensive contributors from the back end and some decent prospects coming through on defence. But they must tread carefully here.
The Subban signing is not a play for the win on a Thursday in January, but rather a play for that long sought period of continuous contending play. Sign him up for a long-term deal at an affordable and fair rate, and the team puts in place a proven (yes 2 years should be enough on this evidence) top 2 defenceman with offensive nous.
Play too many games here, and the team risks losing this asset now, or down the road, for nothing. And don't talk to me about Nathan Beaulieu. The best case scenario is that he could be as good as Subban one day. Subban is that good.
Get this man signed, and shut up those goofs on the TV.