Monday, 28 January 2013

Of PK's, Generals, and Gally's...oh my!

Here I was planning out my post about last night's win by the Montreal Canadiens over the Devils, their first at the Bell Centre in a long long time, when news comes out about the team and Resticted free agent P.K. Subban agreeing to terms on a two year deal.

General Manager Marc Bergevin held firm to his guns, something I completely commend him for. P.K. Subban has been great for the team. His public face is extremely personable, likeable and charming. On the ice he is flashy, he is exciting, and he works hard. He sells jerseys, he sells the team, and he sells himself. The guy is fantastic. I believe he's an asset the Canadiens should lock up long term. Reportedly he wanted to be locked up long term. So what was the issue?

The issue, it seems, is that The Montreal Canadiens in their recent history have a way of doing business that involves signing their players to a "bridge contract". The theory behind the bridge contract is that it rewards hard work with a salary increase while allowing the player time to shine and earn a huge contract, not just in terms of dollars but in terms of length.

Both Max Pacioretty and Carey Price were given bridge contracts after their entry level deals. Both recently signed long term extensions, and in the case of Pacioretty, his extension actually only kicks in next season - he is still playing under his bridge contract.

Josh Gorges, coming off a serious knee injury, signed a 1-year bridge deal to show what he had when healthy, as soon as they were allowed, the Canadiens gave Gorges a long term extension. This is the way the Montreal Canadiens do business. It seems that although they may have saved some money by signing Subban long term now, they are prepared to pay more later on if they have to. They want the long term deal to be earned, something I fully believe P.K.Subban will have no problem doing.

Canadiens fans should be excited as the back-end now has two very dynamic puck movers, something that I can't ever recall seeing. Also Andrei Markov and P.K.Subban should finally see some time on the same bench together - something that has rarely been seen. I expect in a role secondary to the "general", P.K.Subban is likely primed to break out more than we have ever seen.

Lars Eller was expected to return to the lineup in time for yesterday's game regardless of Max Pacioretty being forced out. As the coach wanted, he was "more aggressive" throwing three body checks in the first period, but for the most part looked lost. This isn't something new. Every time that Eller has been put on the wing with the Canadiens before he seems lost. Pierre McGuire suggested on "Melnick in the afternoon" recently that Eller seems more suited to be a winger. If that's the case, someone needs to spend time teaching him the position. Lars Eller is still a young player and if he needs a serious retooling then the coaches should treat him the same way they would Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk - with kid gloves and extra care. Go over things with him, break down tape, and expect mistakes. Treat him like a rookie. I wouldn't give up on him just yet.

The two Gally's were informed today that they would be remaining with the Canadiens for the season. I'm not surprised at all by the decision to keep Brendan Gallagher up with the club, but am slightly more surprised at the decision to keep Galchenyuk.

Brendan Gallagher is in the first year of his entry level deal regardless if he plays in the American league or the National Hockey League, whereas Alex Galcheyuk would not be starting his entry level deal if he were to continue the season in Sarnia.

Both players have shown that there are able to play at this level, yesterday was a strong strong effort from both kids. Canadiens Coach Michel Therrien has done a great job insulating them. Brandon Prust has been assigned as a "babysitter" on the line.Gallagher is a little guy who likes to play big by barreling towards the opposing net, Galchenyuk is a skilled forward that opposing teams will want to attack. Prust being there gives the kids a veteran sounding board and also gives them a tough force to protect them from being roughed up by opposing players. Yesterday, with Galchenyuk 0/5 on faceoffs, the coach had Prust slide over to take them - an in-game adjustment that former coach Jacques Martin may not have made. The kids have been given many more chances to shine at home with matchups that favour them - something that proves that the coach is paying attention. Michel Therrien has a history of working well with young players, something that is once again being evidenced here.

We spoke about Andrei Markov a couple of games ago. I have been impressed with him not avoiding traffic. He's logging many minutes, playing both special teams, and scoring goals. Yesterday was the best game I've seen him play yet. He pinched at appropriate times, he created offense, and never lagged in his own end - with one exception; Just before the winning goal Markov pinched and the puck was turned over leading to a 3-on-1 against Alexi Emelin. Emelin played the puck well, and on the ensuing turnover Markov ended up scoring the winning goal. The General is getting close to being all the way back and Hab-fans should be excited.


  1. Subban's contract has nothing to due with the bridge contract. The fact is that 2.85mil was the largest cap hit the canadiens could take for this year's cap. Bergevin's hands were tied.

  2. Including the new Cap hit for P.K. Subban, The Habs still have a shade over $3 Million in room to spend under the cap this season if they so desire.
    For next season, again including Subban's new deal and the cap being reduced to 64.3 Million, the Habs have 17 players signed and just over $8 million in Cap space.
    Bergevin's hands were not tied. The decision to offer this contract to PK Subban was entirely based on the Bridge contract concept.
    Salaries numbers courtesy Cap