Posts tagged ‘Nathan Beaulieu’

January 14, 2013

The Thin Blue Line: Canadiens D, 2013

by Gordiedougie
kaberlesmap

Kaberle’s Map to His Position

Last year, the Montreal Canadiens rotated 10 different defencemen into the lineup to cover up for injuries to key players and inconsistency on the part of the replacements.

Subban and Gorges missed 1 game combined, and the irritatingly bad Kaberle played 72 games for the Canadiens, or 72 more than he should have played in the NHL last season. Emelin played 67 games as an old rookie, and Weber played 60, though he only averaged about 15 minutes a game. A combination of Gill, Campoli, Diaz, St-Denis, and Markov filled in the remaining minutes.

Although they were generally a small group of defenceman, some of whom were inexperienced (Diaz, Weber, Emelin, and St-Denis), the Canadiens still gave up the 5th fewest goals in the conference, giving up only 226 goals on the season. 226 goals allowed was better than several teams that made the playoffs, including the Panthers, Capitals, Flyers, and Senators. The Penguins allowed only 5 fewer goals than the Canadiens all year. Yes, those Penguins.

Unless Bergevin makes a big trade for, say, James Neal (unlikely- and that’s an understatement), or Galchenyuk makes the team and his fibreoptically quick and and accurate wristshot translates to the bigs immediately, it doesn’t appear as if the Canadiens are about to score many more goals. So, they’ll need to maintain that stingy defence if they want to move up the standings this year.

Looking ahead to this year, the Canadiens defence could improve, with the addition by subtraction of Campoli,who had 32 turnovers in 43 games, or a similar amount as guys who played at least 30 more games like Corvo, White, and Boychuk. The return to health of Markov (as long as it lasts), and the depth addition of Bouillon should also help.

The Top-4

If Subban can sign a contract and cut down on his turnovers and penalty minutes (discussed here), and one of Diaz, Weber, or Emelin can improve enough to play top-4 minutes competently, the defence could score a decent amount between Markov and Subban. Gorges and Emelin, meanwhile, can provide harass opposing forwards up and down the ice by either standing in their skates, like Gorges does, or knocking them clean out of their Bauers, like Emelin is apt to attempt.

The Rest

The bottom-2 defence spots could rotate between Weber and Diaz, who are roughly similar in that they are small defencemen with untapped offensive potential, and Bouillon and Kaberle.

Though I slagged Kaberle above, it’s more to do with his contract and 5-on-5 play than his contribution to the powerplay. He still scored a little more than 0.5pts a game after arriving on the Habs last year. Of course, there are other players on the team that can provide similar or improved production, and Kaberle’s total inability or avolition concerning hitting, blocking shots, and battling opposing forwards detracts from his offensive capability. If Kaberle has any value whatsoever, it’ll be in stepping up to the powerplay if and when the rare, Ming dynasty ceramics in Markov’s knees shatter unexpectedly.

Bouillon should mostly be used as a 6th or 7th defenceman and to play on the penalty kill, relieving Subban, Gorges, and Markov from minutes on that front.

Farming

Tinordi is gigantically large, can crush, and probably won’t be ready to contribute for another year. He’ll be exciting to watch if gets called up to fill in for a game or two, but it’s still only his first year as a professional and it might be early to expect a next-generation Hal Gill type of contribution from him.

Beaulieu is also a first-year professional, and while he might also be a top-4 contributor one day, it’s unlikely that he plays in the big CH unless it’s as an injury call-up.

On Paper, the Canadiens may have a top-4 that dominates possession and can provide service to the forwards, with a weak 5-through-7 spots that might struggle to step up in case of injuries. They may also get pushed around by teams with large forwards.

If everyone stays healthy and Subban signs a contract that he won’t pout over, this may not be a dominant defence in the East, but at least it will be balanced, reliable, and definitely won’t keep the team from making the playoffs. Of course, if you see Kaberle on the ice for more than 15 minutes a night, you know something indescribably hideous has happened to one or another of the Habs’ cornerstone defenders.

Advertisements
January 8, 2013

Contract Negotiations, Vol IV: A Subban in the Hand…

by Gordiedougie
2011-NHL-All-Star-Upper-Deck-PK-Subban

“If I’m this happy signing autographs, imagine the smiles for a longterm contract extension…”

Coming out of the lockout, the first article TSN.ca posted about the Montreal Canadiens carried the following headline: “Signing Subban Top Priority for New Canadiens GM Bergevin”. With the rest of the lineup set- barring the incredible possibility of subtracting either Gomez or Kaberle from the roster- the  PK Subban negotiation is the most important item on Bergevin’s agenda before the season starts, with the negotiation also representing an opportunity to control the future of a young, dynamic defenceman with potential to improve. This will also be Bergevin’s second major roster move with respect to his core, the first one being the Pacioretty signing.

Without relying on rumours of what Subban may have asked for and what the Habs may have offered, let’s imagine the pros and cons of the negotiation from the perspectives of an NHL player agent, the GM of the Canadiens, and a fan:

AGENT’S TAKE

“Pernell is a #1 defencemen and should be paid like one. In fact, last year he played the minutes of a top-pairing D, at 24:18, putting him 18th for average ice time per game, and 14th overall for total minutes. On the worst team in the Eastern conference, he was still a +9, and scored as many points as Drew Doughty. Yes, the 7m+/year Drew Doughty. PK loves the city, the fans, and thrives in the Montreal market and is willing to sign long term. He’s a young, durable defenceman with the potential to score more points than he has, as evidenced by the fact that he was 7th in the NHL in shots from a defenceman with 205. His defence has also improved, and in his first two playoff runs he shut down elite players such as Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, and Alex Ovechkin. At the minutes he’s sure to play, we’d prefer to sign him up to a long-term contract- if he gets hurt then we’re left out in the cold. Marc, do right by the fans of Montreal and sign PK Subban for the 5 years, at 5.5M a year, which would be a steal. You won’t be sorry”

GENERAL MANAGER’S TAKE

“Firstly, I want to say that we are extremely thankful for everything that PK has done for the team on-ice, and we look forward to having stay in Montreal for his career. Having said that, PK is still a restricted free agent, and although he’s made great progress for a 2nd year player, he still had lots of potential. Before committing to a long-term contract, we’d like to take another year to gauge what that might be. Given the salary we have committed this year, we’d prefer to wait until the offseason. Markov’s contract expires and then we can use the buy-out option to free up cap space and reward PK for the excellent season we’re certain he’ll have. Sure, we finished last in the East last year, but our problem was offence, which was 13th in the East, while our defence was actually top 5 in the conference in terms of goals allowed. We’d also like to see PK work on taking fewer penalties, as he had the most penalty minutes in the league for a defenceman at 119, many of which were minor penalties, a category he led with 47- or 10 more than the next most for a defenceman. So, let’s say 3 million to play through this season and next year we can renegotiate when PK. Look, if you’re willing to use the contract of a player such as John Carlson (3.9m/yr for 6 years), then maybe we have something…”

THE FANS
“Sign him, Marc! PK can only improve and he’s our best young blueliner since Chris Chelios, a pest, defensive pillar, and powerplay scorer. He can lead our team for a decade and a half and wear the ‘C’! He produces the best highlights on the team and has the best commercials. Subban and Gorges can combine with one of Beaulieu or Tinordi to become a defensive core for the next 6+ years. In fact, Subban is the team’s most exciting player and signing him to a long-term deal now can only pay off.”

Conclusion
These three arguments about Subban’s value to the club are not contradictory, but, ultimately, the club should sign Subban now to a long-term extension that carries through his restricted free agent and first few unrestricted free agency years.

If Subban has a breakout year over the shortened season, scoring a point a game and improving defensively, he could suddenly be worth 6 million+ a season. Even if Subban remains the exact same player, he would still be worth about 4.5m a season, simply based on his icetime and the expectation that he’ll learn to take fewer penalties under Therrien’s discipline. It’s much easier to teach a dynamic player to cut down on penalties than to develop a mediocre talent into a top-pairing defenceman.

Worse, stiffing Subban on a contract now could leave him open to an offer sheet later, or eventually pave the way for Subban to leave as a free agent, something the Habs can ill-afford after squandering McDonagh’s potential through trade. The Canadiens will never have more leverage over Subban than they do now and with an aggressive contract offer similar to the one Pacioretty received, say 6 years at 4.5m/year, it would be tough for Meehan and Subban to turn down that guaranteed money.

Given the buy-outs that are likely coming this summer and the assured fandom of Montrealers, it’s a roll of the dice that you can afford. According to Jean-Francois Chaumont of La Journale de Montreal, Bergevin was quoted as saying: “Mon intention est de signer P.K. avant le camp, […] C’est mon but depuis le premier jour de mon arrivée en poste, même si ce n’est pas ­arrivé avant la fin de la dernière ­convention. In other words, “It’s my intention to sign PK before training camp. It’s been my goal since my first day on the job, even if we couldn’t get a contract signed before the last CBA expired.”

One way or the other, Subban will be under contract this season. With the right offer, this negotiation could result in controlling Subban’s foreseeable future at a relative discount.