He's not the tallest, and he's not the most defensively responsible, but P.K. Subban is the kind of flashy young defenseman that produces big time offensive results from the back end.
Like Nashville's Shea Weber, Subban was a second round pick that has developed into a special franchise cornerstone kind of player. At 6'0 and 217-pounds, he's more sturdy than hulking, however, he makes sure his presence is felt with punishing highlight-reel checks and a heavy howitzer from the point. Subban's confidence borders on and often can be considered cocky, but fans should have no problem with that knowing he can back it all up with impressive performances on a nightly basis.
Coming off a two-year $5.75 Million deal, Subban is entering restricted free agency after a 10-goal/53-point regular season and an additional 14 points in 17 postseason games. Not only was this season a career-best, he also was the league's sixth-leading scorer amongst defensemen and was also 17th in time on ice for defenders with a nightly average of 24:36. Subban's 23 power play points--six more than Minnesota's own Ryan Suter--also finished eighth in the league from the back end.
There is a lot to like about this guy, especially when you consider where he would fit in the Wild's lineup. Head coach Mike Yeo instantly receives a top pairing defenseman to pair with Suter, and a key power play component for a man advantage unit ranked 16th overall in the 2013-14 regular season and 10th in the postseason. In addition, top defensive prospect Mathew Dumba would have a mentor to work with that many around the league have actually closely compared his game to.
Signing Subban provides grit, scoring and depth, and proves to the entire league that the Minnesota Wild are ready to win now. It means more national coverage on television, increases Minnesota's likelihood of receiving a Winter Classic, creates less pressure for Suter and allows the club's younger defensemen to grow and develop.
However, he won't come cheap at the price of around $9 Million a year for five to seven years and four first round draft picks (the compensation due the Habs if they choose not to match any potential offer sheet of that magnitude presented to Subban). In addition, it could make signing Minnesota's talented youngsters difficult once they begin hitting restricted free agency themselves. Fortunately, the potential for a couple of Cups during that span would more than soften the blow.
There's always a risk in signing free agents of any sort, but Subban's sky high upside as an elite NHL defenseman--and his Norris Trophy-winning past--should be too much for any GM to pass up. If Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is truly committed to winning now, he'll be ready with pen, paper and the kitchen sink come July 1st.