With a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday, the Canadiens and restricted free-agent defenceman P.K. Subban submitted salary figures on Wednesday and they are more than $3 million apart.
Subban is asking for $8.5 million for one season, while the Canadiens are offering $5.25. Subban, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman two seasons ago, earned $3.75 million last season when he posted 10-43-53 totals in 82 regular-season games and had 5-9-14 totals in 17 playoff games.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin made a couple of other moves on Wednesday morning, announcing that Dan Lacroix has been hired as an assistant coach to replace Gerard Gallant, who is now head coach of the Florida Panthers, and Rob Ramage has been hired as a player-development coach, replacing Patrice Brisebois, who left the job for what he said were family reasons.
“We are very pleased to welcome Dan Lacroix as part of our coaching staff,” Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said in a statement. “Daniel earned the respect of his peers for his coaching skills and his impressive knowledge of the game. He has worked as a coach for almost 15 years, including seven seasons as assistant coach in the NHL. He knows the Canadiens organization and his experience at the professional level made him a much coveted candidate. He is an excellent addition to our coaching staff and to the Canadiens organization.”
Lacroix, a 45-year-old Montreal native, has worked as an assistant coach in the NHL for seven of the past eight seasons, and was with the New York Rangers last season. He also worked as assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2010 to 2013 and with the New York Islanders from 2006 to 2009. Lacroix also worked as assistant coach with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs during the 2009-10 season.
Lacroix played 188 regular season games in the NHL as a left-winger between 1993 and 2000 with the Rangers, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders. He registered career totals of 11 goals, seven assists and 379 penalty minutes.
Ramage played 1,044 regular-season games in the NHL as a defenceman between 1979 and 1994 and was part of the Canadiens’ 1993 Stanley Cup team. He also played with the Colorado Rockies, the Blues, the Calgary Flames, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Minnesota North Stars, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers. Ramage and Bergevin were teammates with the Lightning.
“We welcome Rob Ramage as part of our hockey personnel,” Bergevin said in a statement. “Rob is a dedicated and competent hockey person who will contribute to our player development group. Our entire organization, and particularly our young defencemen will benefit from his experience and his knowledge.”
Ramage, 55, spent the last two seasons working as an amateur scout for the St. Louis Blues.
The Canadiens also announced Wednesday that Rick Dudley now holds the title of senior vice-president of hockey operations and that Scott Mellanby has been promoted to assistant general manager, working along with Larry Carrière under Bergevin. Trevor Timmins added the title of vice-president of player personnel and will also remain the club’s director of amateur scouting.
There are currently only six NHL defencemen with a cap hit above $7 million and Subban could become the seventh. Nashville’s Shea Weber tops the list at $7.857 million, followed by Minnesota’s Ryan Suter ($7.538 million), Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang ($7.25 million), Florida’s Brian Campbell ($7.12 million) and Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf and Los Angeles’s Drew Doughty ($7 million each).
Goaltender Carey Price is the highest-paid player on the Canadiens at this point, slated to earn $6.75 million next season during the third year of a six-year, $39-million contract with an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
Subban’s agent, Don Meehan, was on Sportsnet’s Fan 590 radio on Wednesday and was asked if it was important to him and Subban that he become the highest-paid defenceman in the NHL based on average annual value.
“Really, we haven’t approached it in that respect,” Meehan said. “That’s not something that he’s instructed us to attend to. When you get down to an arbitration process, it really becomes in many respects a statistical analysis, and it can be different from a negotiation you’re having with a club. They’re really two different venues.
“But he’s a remarkable player, and he has a remarkable presence in Montreal. I think Montreal acknowledges that, and I think we’re all trying to do our best to see if we can come up with something that makes sense from both sides’ points of view.”
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)