Subban deserves lucrative, max-term deal

P.K. Subban's expiring "bridge" contract was a prove-it deal. He proved it. Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

It didn’t end in a Stanley Cup like so many other postseason runs have during Montreal's long history, but it was still a memorable run.

Before the New York Rangers ended their season, the Montreal Canadiens beat their heated rivals, knocking out the Eastern Conference’s only true heavyweight by eliminating the Boston Bruins. Goalie Carey Price was injured, but Dustin Tokarski made a name for himself with his gutsy performances against the Rangers. It was a wild ending, too short for Canadiens fans, but one that provides hope for next season.

Now, comes an offseason that will help dictate if this team can climb another notch in the East. Here’s the focus for GM Marc Bergevin:

1. Sign P.K. Subban to a long-term deal

The days of getting Subban at a discount are over. His bridge deal, worth $2.875 million per season, expires this offseason, and now comes the monster raise he earned during a contract that spanned a Norris Trophy. The threat of an RFA offer sheet is there, since general managers will have money this summer without much talent to sign.

However, there’s also the expectation that the Canadiens, who have the cap room coming to handle this contract, will just match anything Subban gets in the form of an offer sheet. Plus, there’s a risk in angering a franchise with deep pockets.

It’s not unreasonable for Subban, still just 25 years old, to get something north of $8 million per season in a max-term deal. In signing him to a short-term deal the last time, Montreal wanted Subban to earn the big money. He most certainly did.

2. Let Vanek walk, re-sign Gionta and Markov

In getting Thomas Vanek for a remarkably reasonable price from the New York Islanders, Montreal got a close-up look at what the team signing him this summer is getting.

The results were mixed.