I'm seeing a lot of silly things being written or said on Twitter regarding Montreal's inability to get P.K. Subban to sign on the line which is dotted. Today, Renaud Lavoie of RDS leaked the amount which Montreal is offering Subban - $2.2M (pro-rated) this year, $2.9M next year. We all know that this cannot possibly be Subban's true value, even in Montreal's eyes. So why would they continue to hold the line on salary here?
I'm probably suggesting that Montreal is much smarter than they actually are here, but Montreal should be holding the line on RFA salaries for a simple reason: they can. It's one place where they actually have leverage. One of the worst-kept financial secrets around the NHL is that playing in Montreal is a costly affair - according to this graphic, Montreal has the highest tax rate of any NHL city. Players and agents seem to know this, and it's commented on every year how much Montreal overpays players, but in short, absent other options, they have to. A player making $2M makes $200k less in actual dollars in Montreal than he does in Florida. That's going to be an impediment towards building a winning team - it's hard to compete when you've got to pay that much more to retain your talent. But what if you sat on your restricted free agents and tried to force them into sign-or-else contracts? What if you paid 25% less for your RFA players than everyone else? You'd at least be on a more level playing field. If they leave when they go UFA, so what, it's hard to get 100% of the value of a UFA contract anyway. If they go to arbitration when they are eligible, let them! They should still end up with less in actual dollars than they should get, relative to the Montreal tax rate.
I don't know if Habs GM Marc Bergevin is doing this and indeed, by his signings of Pacioretty and Price to large deals, he may not be doing that at all. But it's still something to consider, and much better than the 'They should pay P.K. his market price' type talk, as if market prices are something to aspire to pay.