subban civiesIt is a given, even as a restricted free agent, P.K. Subban is going to make a boatload of money starting next season.

Because he is restricted, in the short term it is the Canadiens who will have the final say on whether he plays in Montreal or goes elsewhere.  Long term it is – advantage Subban.

Ultimately, if the Habs come to a long term agreement, we’re talking about a contract that is expected to  total around 70 million dollars over a likely eight year life span.

Something this enormous is not normally going to be settled in a quick negotiation and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has been in serious discussion with Subban’s agent Don Meehan for only the few weeks since the Habs season ended on May 29th.  Although the door is open for eventual third party participation in the process (Offer Sheet), it’s not absolutely critical if  talks fail to bear fruit over the next twelve days.

Each side in the negotiation has scheduled options and protections that include qualifying offers, potential Offer Sheets and, if it comes to that, salary arbitration.  Most of these things start to kick in after July first when Subban officially is listed as an RFA..

Here’s how the system works –

– The Canadiens must make a one year qualifying offer to Subban the day after the NHL Entry Draft (this year – June 29th) in order  to retain his negotiating rights.  In Subban’s case the qualifying offer ,  has to equal 100 percent of  his just expired contract ($3.75 million).  This figure is considered a technicality and a starting point for further negotiation.

– If the Canadiens fail to qualify, Subban becomes an unrestricted free agent.

– If Subban refuses the qualifying offer he remains a restricted free agent and has until December first to come to terms or he is ineligible to play for the rest of the season.

– If Subban rejects or leaves the qualifying offer on the table he is immediately able to entertain Offer Sheets from other teams.

– Should Subban sign an Offer Sheet, the Canadiens can no longer negotiate  and they may not  trade him.

– The Canadiens would have seven days to match the Offer Sheet.  They cannot change it in any way.   If they decline, Subban would go to his new team and the Canadiens would receive draft pick compensation based on the cap hit value of the new contract. (see compensation schedule below).  If they agree to match the offer they would not be able to trade Subban for a year.

– Subban or the Canadiens can file for salary arbitration.  At that point he may no longer sign an Offer Sheet.  The arbittation filing deadline is July 5th with arbitration in late July and early August.

– Subban can ask for a one or two year term to the arbitrator’s decision.  At the end of two years he would become an unrestricted free agent.

– Maximum NHL contract length is seven years.  In re-signing their own player, the Canadiens can extend that to an eight year limit.


 Some  RFA History  Worth Noting–

– In the summer of 2012 the Canadiens refused to give Subban the long term contract he was looking for.  At the time they signed him to a two year 5.75 million “bridge contract” based on current performance rather than potential.  In the second year of  the contract he earned 3.75 million.

– In 2011, after a qualifying offer of 1.3 million from the Canadiens, Josh Gorges filed for arbitration.  The Canadiens settled on a one-year 2.5 million dollar bridge contract with him before a scheduled July 28th hearing.  Six months later he signed a six year deal at 3.9 million. That contract took effect in the 2012-13 season.

– In 2009, through an administrative snafu,  the Chicago Blackhawks failed to file qualifying offers to six players including Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Aaron Johnson and Troy Brouwer  before the July 1st  deadline.  All of them were declared unrestricted free agents and a week later Chicago GM Dale Tallon was fired.

– An accepted Offer Sheet for Subban in the neighborhood of 8.5 million dollars would bring the Canadiens four – first round draft choices from the other team.  (see compensation formula below)

– Since the 2005 lockout, eight players have received Offer Sheets from other teams.  Only once did an original team fail to match.  In 2007, Edmonton  made a 5 year 21.5 year offer to Anaheim’s Dustin Penner.  Anaheim refused to match and received a first, second and third round draft choice in compensation.

– Prior to the 2007 offer sheet to Penner the Oilers presented a seven year-50 million dollar Offer Sheet to then Buffalo RFA Thomas Vanek.   Vanek accepted forcing the Sabres to match.  That contract has just expired now making Vanek an unrestricted free agent on July first..

– The Philadelphia Flyers forced the Nashville Predators to match a record 2012 14 year – 110 million dollar Offer Sheet for defenseman Shea Weber.

– The Most Recent Offer Sheet was made to Colorado forward Ryan O’Reilly in July 2013 by Calgary.  Colorado matched at 2 years and 10 million dollars.

 Offer Sheet Compensation Schedule

Cap Hit of offer sheet Draft Pick Compensation
$1,110,249 or below None
Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 Third-round pick
Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 Second-round pick
Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 First-round and third-round pick
Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 First-round, second-round and third-round pick
Over $6,728,781 to $8,410,976 Two first-round picks, second-round pick, third-round pick
Over $8,410,976 Four first-round picks