After months of negotiations and speculation and a salary arbitration hearing, P.K. Subban is going to be a long-term Montreal Canadien.
The restricted free agent defenceman agreed to terms on an eight-year, $72 million contract with the team on Saturday, avoiding a salary arbitration ruling. Subban's average annual value is $9 million.
"I think that it sends a strong message to me that they want me here and they appreciate everything I've done to this point and they believe in me as a player," Subban said on a conference call Saturday evening. "I think I've always believed that, but obviously in this process and coming out with this result, now everybody else understands it and can see it as well and doesn't have to speculate about how the Montreal Canadiens feel about me."
The Canadiens and Subban's camp met for their arbitration hearing on Friday in Toronto. Both sides voiced their arguments to appointed arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier in a four-hour session.
According to reports, the Canadiens submitted their arbitration brief earlier this week with a salary of $5.25 million on a one-year contract, while Subban - represented by agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports - asked for $8.5 million on a one-year term.
From the end of Friday's arbitration hearing, Neumeier was given 48 hours to reach her decision. The Canadiens and Subban had until a decision by Neumeier was announced to sign a new contract, otherwise the arbitration contract would have been binding and the two sides could not negotiate a new deal until January 1.
"We are very pleased to have reached a long term agreement with P.K. Subban," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. "This agreement helps consolidate the future of our team. A key element of our group of young veterans, P.K. plays with a high level of intensity every time he steps onto the ice. Despite his young age, he carries a great deal of experience and brings contagious energy to the team. Defensemen of his level are a rare commodity in the NHL."
Subban, who signed a two-year deal worth an average annual value of $2.875 million contract prior to the 2012-2013 season, scored 10 goals and added 43 assists in 82 games with the Canadiens in 2013-14.
"I knew that even before the arbitration that something was going to get done," Subban said. "We were always working on a long-term deal. These types of deals don't get done overnight, they don't get done over a few days. It takes months sometimes to get these deals done. I'm happy that it's done now and everybody's happy about it."
He also added five goals and 14 points in 17 playoff games and was part of the Canadian men's Olympic team that won gold in Sochi in February.
Subban was awarded the 2013 Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman after notching 11 goals and 27 assists in 42 games.
Drafted in the second round (43rd overall) in 2007, Subban has scored 42 goals and 167 assists in 284 career games.