Now that the drama of the last week is behind us, let’s remember that back in November there were rumblings that the Montreal Canadiens were actually purposely trying to diminish P.K. Subban‘s value ahead of negotiating a new contract over the summer.
In fact, I had written a piece about this here.
Here are a couple of snippets from the article.
[In 2010-11,] Subban actually was third on the team in shorthanded time on ice, surprising when you consider that he hardly sees the ice 4 vs 5 right now. He played 185:03 at 4 vs 5 behind only Hal Gill and Brent Sopel. And his Corsi defensive rating (from Hockey Analysis.com) was a team-best 12.9* (which means that he was 12.9 percent less likely to allow a short handed shot attempt on net when he was on the ice as opposed to his teammates). Not too bad for a rookie.
*Among players with at least 100 minutes shorthanded
The next year, 2011-12, Subban was behind only Josh Gorges in shorthanded time on ice at 199:18). And, once again he was the top defenceman at 22.3. Only Lars Eller was better on the team at preventing shots on the net among players with 100 minutes shorthanded. Again, this doesn’t look like someone who should be sitting on the bench when shorthanded.
However, last year, he played only 57:39 while shorthanded last year – Michel Therrien‘s first – and was behind Gorges, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov and Davis Drewiske among defencemen. When he was on the ice, he had a rating of 17.3 which was second on the team, and top defencemen among players with 50 minutes or more while shorthanded. So even in limited time in the Michel Therrien era, Subban was the best shorthanded defenceman.
To update this, in 2013-14, Subban played 54:41 shorthanded. Less than five defencemen: Andrei Markov, Douglas Murray, Josh Gorges, Mike Weaver and Alexei Emelin. The only thing surprising is that Francis Bouillon wasn’t on that list.
However, when shorthanded this year, Subban was once again the best player when adjusted for time on ice. His Corsi Rating last year was 53.2. The next best player was Max Pacioretty at 33.3. The next best defenceman was Andrei Markov at 5.2.
There really is no reason for Subban to not be playing at least 30 minutes a night especially when you consider Markov’s advancing years and the fact there is no more Josh Gorges or Douglas Murray. Tom Gilbert is not a very good penalty killer (his Corsi rating was -21.5 – yes negative) and so more minutes should fit into Subban’s lap.
You could argue that they need to rest him, but there is probably no player on the Canadiens who is as fit as Subban. In the playoffs, there was no sign of him slowing down and he rarely left the ice in the third periods of games.
Whether his increase in ice time comes because of the big contract or because of increased opportunity. You don’t pay a defenceman $9 million if he sits on the bench during the penalty kill. Especially when he has proven his worth there ever since he has entered the league.
Like I closed the article in November – there is no hockey reason to keep Subban on a leash. There’s a reason they just paid him $72 million. Let him go out there and prove it.