While some could argue that P.K. Subban is the most talented Montreal Canadiens skater since Alex Kovalev, the former Habs forward has a strong difference of opinion.
Kovalev, in Montreal for a charity golf tournament, didn't mince words on Tuesday regarding the superstar defenceman's style of play and his new contract that makes him the highest paid player in franchise history.
"First of all I don't understand how they get these contracts," Kovalev told Philippe Lehoux of RDS on Tuesday. "I know it's a different lifestyle, different times...if you go back to the 70s they weren't making the big contracts either and they probably felt the same way about us when we came into the league and started making big money. Now it's the same thing for us."
Kovalev, who played five seasons with the Canadiens from 2004 to 2009, added that he's not a fan of Subban's play on the blue line.
"I'm not saying that he isn't a good hockey player - he's not the guy," he said. "He's a risky defenceman and he's a wide open defenceman. What I'm saying is that he can give up five goals and score five goals, and the score's still going to be zero-zero.
So if for example, he saves five goals and scores five goals, that's a different style of hockey. So I always compare him with (former Rangers teammate) Brian Leetch, because he wants to play the same kind of style and be more offensive. He's not making the right decisions. He's making the risky plays, he's not making the right decisions sometimes. He just plays like we used to play on the street...street hockey."
Subban, who was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer, agreed to terms on an eight-year, $72 million contract with the team on Aug. 2, avoiding a salary arbitration ruling from a hearing that tok place less than 24 hours earlier.
He signed a two-year deal worth an average annual value of $2.875 million contract prior to the 2012-2013 season - a season that saw him capture the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top blueliner. He also scored 10 goals and added 43 assists in 82 games with the Canadiens in 2013-14 and led all Canadiens skaters in postseason scoring. That resume, however, is not enough to convince Kovalev that Subban has earned his long-term payday.
"Maybe because he won best defenceman of the year, that's how they get paid these days," he said. "You know, you win best player of the year and you get a big contract right away. But for his game, I don't understand why he got so much money."