The Subban Comp


A little over a week ago, we learned from Jim Matheson that Justin Schultz’s camp was looking to the P.K. Subban bridge deal as a possible comparable in conversations with the Oilers, but that an average annual value starting with a “2” wasn’t something that had much appeal to them.

A few days after that, Bob Stauffer speculated that a one-year deal was the most likely route out of the current impasse between player and team.

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What happens if we combine those two reports?

The Subban Contract

PK subban

The two-year bridge deal Subban signed with Montreal is an interesting one because there were some unique circumstances at play. First, it came in a lockout-shortened season. Second, it came after the start of said season; the Habs were already 3-1-0 when Subban agreed to the deal.

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Via NHL Numbers, here’s how the deal was structured:

  • First year: $2.0 million in salary
  • Second year: $3.75 million in salary

Subban’s cap hit was the average of those two numbers, but that doesn’t really capture the essence of the deal. Essentially, Subban played half a year at a number low enough to knock the cap hit down and then played a full season at a dollar figure high enough to satisfy him.

In other words, if the Oilers and Schultz are looking at a one-year deal, I imagine the dollar figure we’re talking about isn’t at a modest $2-something but rather more in the $3.5 million range – a deal based on the second year of the Subban contract. Conveniently enough, that’s a dollar figure in the range of his entry-level salary and bonuses figure.

What Does This Mean for the Oilers?

Craig MacTavish9

The contract that we’ve just hypothesized is not a value deal. For a restricted free agent like Schultz, a one-year pact in the $3.5 million range is an overpay based on what the market has given players in similar positions, an overpay based on what Schultz has proven at the NHL level, and an invitation for another overpay a year from now.

However. The organization clearly believes in Schultz, and may decide that a slight overpay on a short-term deal isn’t a problem if it keeps a valuable (and still developing) asset happy. The team did the same with Nikita Nikitin not long ago; there the upside was a stronger left side defence and here the upside is keeping a key player in the fold.

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On a one-year deal, I personally think a $3.5 million valuation (or something in the range) is far too steep for the potential reward (which is basically having this same conversation next summer instead of now). If the Oilers are willing to sacrifice money to get something done, at the very least it really ought to be a two-year deal that gives them time to get a definitive read on the player and maybe even the opportunity to get some value out of the contract.


  • IM80

    I think Schultz is drastically underestimating how his not signing the contract yet is impacting his image with Oilers fans…….Comrie 2.0?…..

    (especially given he already done this before with Anaheim)

    • PlayDirty

      Meh… we’re a fickle bunch. He’ll sign, then put up some great numbers and we’ll all forget about this summer. Besides, next summer we’ll all be b!tching and moaning about how Yak is holding out!

  • PlayDirty

    Maybe club has soured on Schultz’s upside and future value somewhat over last two seasons ? Is he another Larsen with offence but a detriment defensively ? I don’t think Oilers are prepared to stick their necks out at this juncture . Pay me and play me could easily turn into trade me if it goes much longer and into season .

  • Reg Dunlop

    MacT created this situation with the Ference ($ and term) and Nikitin ($) overpays, as well as Gagner ($ and term), and Pouliot ($ and term) to name a few top of mind. While I do not value Jultz as highly as the organizations seems to (any comparison of him to Subban is a joke), I don’t blame him or his agent for going for the overpay as well in either a bridge or longer term deal. They will likely get what they want in the end.

    • Reg Dunlop

      You’re not wrong. I think it would be hard for Schult’z agent to look at the player’s ice time, and points, then see the comparable contracts given out to these guys and not want to get his client paid.

      Only difference being these were UFA’s and you’re always going to pay a little more for those guys. I don’t think the fans are hoping the kid takes a home town discount or anything, but maybe he should bring his expectations back down to reasonable.

  • Serious Gord


    From webster’s:

    1 : to generate pus 2 : putrefy, rot 3 a : to cause increasing poisoning, irritation, or bitterness : rankle b : to undergo or exist in a state of progressive deterioration

    Fester seems to be the main approach to roster issues by MacT and previous GMs.

    Specific to MacT: hemsky, dubnyk, gagner and now shultz and a second line centre.

    Just once I would like to see a significant roster move that wasn’t delayed/ done too late – one that hadn’t been in the fan/media discussion room long before it happened.

  • Sorensenator

    I’m not sure what you are implying about the cap is correct. Even if his cap hit was only $2M. If he only played half a season would he not get $1m. I don’t thinkit works the way you are suggesting.

  • Sorensenator

    How things change in a year or two when you play for the Oilers.

    One moment your the toast of the town the next your on the F train anywhere but here.

    At least there will always be a new draftee we could put our hopes on every year, then make sure we run him to the ground right before payday.

    I kind of wonder why are these kids so good in their first year then start to suck? oh! their playing Oilers hockey just like coach said that’s why.

    Someone needs to lose in this game to bad its Edmonton at least when Hemmer was here you would see something cool every-night.

    Bright side. Mac-T doing a great job ever since he started.

    • Sorensenator

      well, walk the walk. If he’s so good, he should have been plus player. he wants to get paid on potential at the age of 24!!!! news flash!! by that age, you should have at least had one season of actual performance.

  • TS

    Paying for potential hurts. Paying for past performance hurts. Either way a team can get burnt. Either way a team can benefit. Fans squawk about Shultz wanting money. Fans squawk about the Horcoff and Gagner contracts. Fans squawk. Nothing to see here, move along.

  • Bucknuck

    J Schultz reminds me more of Mathieu Schneider more than Subban, but perhaps I am letting my age show. I loved watching him rip up the AHL. He’s a player, of that I am certain.

    I don’t understand the bad blood with fans. He didn’t go to arbitration, and he hasn’t smeared the team in the media, so people need to take a step back. His agent is playing hardball with MacT and MacT is making them sweat it. I personally don’t care.

    BUT, if he isn’t signed by training camp then I will be pissed. The last thing this team needs is a distraction, and not signing Schultz will provide one. Either trade him or sign him, but don’t make him sit.

    If the Schultz camp wants anything more than 4M, then it better be a long deal so the Oil have a chance to buy value.