So, let’s start right up front by stating that living in the world of reason, logic and an NHL salary cap, this will never, ever happen in a million years.
Still, one year removed from Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli pulling the trigger on a Tyler Seguin deal with the Dallas Stars, wouldn’t it be a great thing if Chiarelli pulled off something bold once again. Except this time he could engineer a hockey maneuver that would undoubtedly improve his team while weakening his biggest rival and the team that bitterly ended the B's season in the second round of the playoffs.
What we’re talking about is spicing up the summer by offering a mega-contract to 25-year-old restricted free agent Pernell Karl Subban, who is still sitting in limbo with the Montreal Canadiens, waiting for a contract offer from a team that’s undergone some changes already this summer.
Clearly, the Bruins would have to blow up part of their roster to make it happen, and that’s something Chiarelli was unwilling to do for 37-year-old Jarome Iginla. But this is a different case altogether: Subban is a young, wildly talented defenseman and Norris Trophy winner who is just starting to come into his own. He showed off his prodigious talent in practically knocking the Black and Gold off all by himself.
He’s coming off his best offensive season in the NHL with 10 goals and 53 points, while averaging a shade under 25 minutes of ice time per game, and he is a workhorse player capable of logging heavy minutes. The flamboyant defenseman has also taken strides in the leadership department as well, but his act isn’t all that different than what Claude Julien already manages well with Brad Marchand.
The grace and maturity Subban displayed amid the Twitter flap at the start of the B’s playoff series was truly telling and it can’t be any clearer that he’s one of the ambassadors the NHL is utilizing to market the game. Of all the players to choose for interviewing award winners on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, the league chose the likable and eloquent Subban.
P.K. Subban is the epitome of a player you’d love to hate when he’s flopping, chirping and carrying on as a member of the enemy, but a player that any fan base would love if he were wearing the home uniform. One of the real things that the Bruins seemed to be missing in the Montreal playoff series was that energy and that joie de vivre for playing the game. Subban had both of those in big supply throughout the series, and his windup-and-crank bomb from the point on the power play certainly didn’t hurt either.
The Bruins are also in the unique position of selling Subban on the idea of playing with his little brother, Malcolm, the goalie who is likely a year or two away while developing his glove hand and overall game in the AHL. That’s something the defenseman would have to consider strongly, particularly if the Bruins decided to damn the NHL etiquette all to hell, and drop a seven-year, $56 million deal at the doorstep of Subban and his agent.
Certainly it would mean having a conversation with Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron if Subban were to splash into the Bruins fold and surpass both of those players as the new man atop the B’s salary structure. Clearly, a number of bodies from the Bruins roster would have to be jettisoned immediately, and it would mean the end in Boston for Johnny Boychuk, probably Marchand and perhaps a couple more defensemen.
That would be the biggest downside to such a gigantic cannonball into the offer sheet swimming pool. The chemistry would be altered in a significant way.
Chiarelli is already on record as saying that he doesn’t plan on tinkering with the defenseman corps this summer.
“I’m happy with the D that we have. We have more than enough. I’ve had guys call me for our D from the moment we lost,” said Chiarelli. “They want our D. They’re coached well, they’ve developed well, so I’m pretty comfortable with that we have. [We have] to figure out the right formula; that’s what our jobs are.”
Still, it would provide the Bruins with a dynamic All-Star defenseman in his prime that could support the aging Chara, and help ease the pressure off some of the younger D as they carve out their NHL identity. Dougie Hamilton is emerging as a cornerstone franchise defenseman at 21, and will be excellent for the Black and Gold for years to come. But nobody knows if he’ll ever be as dynamic as Subban is right this second and that kind of offensive upside might be a little bit beyond Hamilton’s reach.
Best of all it would rip the beating heart out of the Montreal Canadiens, and severely handicap a team that’s already jettisoned a couple of heart-and-soul players this summer in Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges.
Can you imagine the kind of uproar a Subban offer sheet would cause among the media, good buddy Tony Marinaro and the Montreal fans that have gone on police car-burning rampages for far less in their fair city?
Offer sheets are few and far between when it comes to restricted free agents in the NHL, and the cost – in actual money and draft picks surrendered if Subban were to agree to sign the offer sheet and become a Bruin – would be substantial. If the Bruins didn’t do it with Steven Stamkos a couple of years ago, then there’s little reason to think they’ll do it this summer with Subban.
Still, the Bruins could get the last laugh on the Habs prior to the start of next season if they made a real effort to show Subban the money then watched as Marc Bergevin and the Habs front office scrambled with their next move: either pay Subban a bloated contract, or watch their best player sidle up to their sworn enemy.
That’s almost the kind of thing that could make two hockey teams hate each other, isn’t it?
*Congrats to Woburn High product and former Bruins game-day staff worker and New England Revolution intern Brian Smith, who has been named the communications director for Hockey East. Smith is a former defenseman and track standout for the Tanners, and is part of a Woburn hockey family that certainly knows their way around a rink.
Smith spent the past two years with USA Hockey and the USNDTP in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Colorado Springs as the Brian Fishman Intern, but will begin his Hockey East duties July 30.
“We feel very fortunate to make this announcement today,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna. “Brian came highly recommended by our friends at USA Hockey and his experience at various levels of the hockey community will serve him well as he tackles his new duties. Even with 157 applicants seeking this position, Brian instantly stood out among the deepest of the candidates.”
The Hockey East home office in Wakefield, Mass., is full of quality people, and it’s good to see they’ve added to that list by bringing Smith home to Massachusetts.
*Dumbest rumor I heard last weekend at the NHL Draft in Philly? That would have to be one person with a wealth of hockey knowledge who tried to convince me that the Bruins were talking contract with free agent defenseman Brooks Orpik. Let’s put aside the fact that the Bruins have nine NHL defensemen and an aging, slowing Orpik isn’t the kind of guy that you blow your roster apart to acquire.
While he was the victim in the incident with Shawn Thornton that left Orpik with a concussion and on a stretcher as a result of being hit from behind, there were few in the Bruins organization impressed with his actions leading up to the regrettable conclusion with Thornton. The B’s are an old school hockey franchise, and old school hockey people don’t really respect players that want to play on the edge only until they’re actually called out to answer the bell.
Orpik is a big, strong, mean, nasty and hard-hitting defenseman until somebody actually expects him to back up his targeting of other team’s skill players, and then he suddenly turns into a peace-loving hippie in skates and hockey pads. Maybe Washington appreciates that style of play, but that stuff doesn’t fly in Boston.
There’s no shot Orpik would ever play for the Bruins, or would they have been a suitor among teams lining up to sign him to a ludicrous five year contract.
Have a happy, safe Fourth everybody, and remember to keep shooting the puck at the net and good things are bound to happen.