Lowballed. Undervalued. That's the first thought that comes to mind when you see the money reportedly offered to P.K. Subban by the Montreal Canadiens ahead of Friday's arbitration hearing.
According to Elliotte Friedman, the Habs offered their star defenseman just $5.25 million on a one-year deal while Subban requested $8.5 million on a two-year deal. They are far apart according to these numbers — but this is all just part of the process, and certainly not reason for alarm if you're a Montreal fan.
The Habs are using a common negotiating tactic
Teams lowball in arbitration all the time. It's strategic in order to ensure that the arbitration award stays as low as possible. A similar cry on a much smaller scale went up when Lars Eller's numbers were leaked, including fake insiders "leaking" fake stories about how upset Eller was and how he wanted out, right after Eller announced he had signed a new four-year contract with the Habs.
Let's compare Subban to the arbitration case of another prominent defenseman: that of Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators, which took place back in the 2011 offseason. The two players requested the same exact award of $8.5 million. The Preds countered with an offer of $4.75 million, but much like Subban today, Weber had a much better case than his team. The arbitrator ultimately awarded Weber a one-year, $7.5 million contract.
Subban is actually lowballing himself
Weber's requested salary would have accounted for 13.2 percent of the salary cap, whereas Subban's request accounts for 12.3 percent. That's not a huge difference, but had Subban requested the same percentage of the cap as Weber, he'd be looking at $9.12 million reward.
Judging by career accomplishments, he probably has the right to earn that higher percentage of the cap than Weber did in his arbitration year. Subban is a Norris Trophy winner, something Weber has never accomplished, and though Weber plays tougher minutes, Subban has been a far better driver of play throughout his career.
It's just business, and a deal will get done
In Weber's case, the Predators' offer was a meager 7.39 percent of the cap, whereas the Canadiens offered a slightly less meager 7.61 percent of the cap. All in all, both team and player in this Subban negotiation are closer than the Predators and Weber were in 2011.
Fans tend to overreact to these situations, but it's important to remember that this is a business. Even if the negotiations and the way every detail about them comes out in the media might bother you, it's likely that both sides understand where the other is coming from, and that this is all a process.
They'll get something done, and ultimately it might not even take a nasty arbitration hearing to get there.