Two of the three most talked about restricted free agents signed contracts in the last week, and while one was very lurative, one was relatively conservative.
While it would appear that the Stars continued the trend of overpaying for a players’ second contract while the Habs bucked the trend and showed decent restraint in not bending to Subban’s demands. However, this is more of a case of two teams with different expectations in two different cities and two very different players.
Dallas is currently a team in trouble attendance-wise as well as financially. They have a need to make the playoffs and now in order to reap any kind of profit and build more of a fan base. Benn is arguably their best forward and a cornerstone player going forward, who has come off back to back 55+ point seasons. He is a leader in the Stars and has the potential to develop into one of the premiere power forwards in the NHL, if he isn’t there already.
Dallas needed to get the Benn deal done and show their fans that they are committed to being a winning franchise. They couldn’t wait much longer, especially in the competitive Western Conference. Benn took that fact and used it to his advangtage.
Montreal, on the other hand, had the ball in their court all along. The chances for them to make the playoffs is slim even with Subban in the lineup, and the fan base in Montreal isn’t going anywhere.
With a rookie GM, Subban and his agent Don Meehan probably thought they could bully the new guy into a long term lucrative deal. However, Marc Bergevin stood his ground, and with the benefit of the stellar play and good health (for the moment) of Andrei Markov, was able to make the Subban camp blink first. Subban is a quality player who could turn into a very good defenseman in the league, but he still has a lot of maturing to do. He will get paid on his next contract, but for now he has about 120 games to prove his real worth both on the ice and in the dressing room for the Montreal Canadiens. Charisma will only get you so far before you have to do your talking on the ice. Subban is incredibly popular in Montreal, but Bergevin deserves credit for the way he handled the negotiations.
Now the focus shifts to the Colorado Avalanche who have to decide which way to go with Ryan O’Reilly. They would be best served to hold on and follow the Montreal example, as would 28 other GMs in most cases.
Both Dallas and Montreal got what they wanted, and PK might be the only one wearing a frown.