Contract talks begin between Habs, Subban


One of the most intriguing contract negotiations of the season is underway.

The Montreal Canadiens have begun extension talks with reigning Norris winner P.K. Subban, TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports. Lavoie also passes along word that discussions are also underway with another key Montreal defenseman, Rafael Diaz.

It is the Subban contract, though, that’ll draw the most interest.

The 24-year-old missed the first four games of last season embroiled in a contract holdout, ended after he signed a two-year, $5.75 million “bridge deal” largely viewed as a win by Habs GM Marc Bergevin. Earning a modest $2.875 million, Subban had a career year by scoring 11 goals and 38 points in just 42 games, capturing his first-ever Norris award while joining Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Jacques Laperriere, Larry Robinson and Chris Chelios as the only Habs to win the trophy.

Subban is a RFA at season’s end and should be in line for a big payday. It’s possible his agent, Don Meehan, will be eyeballing the seven-year, $45.5 million deal Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson got on the heels of his Norris award — but it’ll be interesting to see if the situation at hand between Subban and head coach Michel Therrien plays a role.

Therrien has, on a few occasions, parked Subban during critical moments of games, most notably in the final four minutes of regulation in a shootout loss to St. Louis.

Here’s more, from TSN:

“I will not comment on the ice time of any player,” head coach Michel Therrien said Wednesday morning when questioned about Subban’s minutes. Therrien did, however, add that Subban played “a hell of a game for us…exactly what we needed from him.”

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie found the timing of the most recent focus on Subban’s ice time to be interesting. “It’s a real interesting dynamic at a real interesting time that all this is happening probably a week or two before P.K.’s representatives are going to start contract negotiations with the Canadiens,” McKenzie told TSN Radio 690 Montreal on Wednesday morning.

Despite this, Subban is still boasting great numbers this year — 17 points through 18 games, while averaging 24:30 per night.

NHL has no plans to change waiver rules

Manny Malhotra Ryan Stanton
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Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”

“For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”

Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.

Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.

In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.

So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?

Your call, Marc Bergevin.

Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL

Ortio clears waivers, assigned to Flames’ AHL team

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Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.

The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),

But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.

In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.

Price placed on injured reserve; Yakupov to miss 2-4 weeks with sprained ankle

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Two injury updates in one post.

First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.

According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.

“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.

Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.

As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.

Getzlaf didn’t love the ‘dead’ atmosphere at Coyotes game

Martin Erat, Ryan Getzlaf

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:

1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.

“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”

Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.

The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.