When the news broke on Wednesday that the Montreal Canadiens had traded D PK Subban to the Nashville Predators for D Shea Weber, my jaw dropped. This is the biggest blockbuster 1-for-1 trade the NHL has seen in a long time. In total, there was more than $110 million worth of salary changing hands, which is outrageous in today’s NHL.
As a Bruins fan, the 27-year old Subban has always been a gigantic thorn in my side. After signing an 8-year deal with the Habs in 2014, I figured he was there for the long haul and wouldn’t ever go away. When he invested heavily in the Montreal community, giving $10 million to a children’s hospital in the area in September of 2015, it appeared even more likely that Montreal was his home and he would end his career there. On the surface, this seems like a terrible deal for the Habs.
In Montreal, this is my city just as much as it’s yours. It’s my job as well to make a commitment to this city that everyone can understand. If because I play for the Montreal Canadiens and people know me because of that and I can use that to raise money for the hospital, that’s my responsibility. I feel that. – PK Subban
On the other side of the trade, the Nashville Predators traded their 31-year old captain Shea Weber, a player who has spent his entire career in the organization. He has 10 years left on his contract and many believe he is beginning to decline, albeit not significantly. He is still an elite D-man in the NHL and would make most teams instantly better, but not in a swap with Subban. This is maybe the only case in which the Habs get worse by adding an elite D-man.
There are several differences between Subban and Weber, but a major gap is the amount of time spent on the puck and direct involvement in the play. According to SportsNet, Subban made more plays per minute than any player in the NHL while Weber ranks 216th out of 256 in that category. Although it is just 1 number, it is telling about the difference in their play.
The chart below breaks it down a bit more:
I know there were grumblings last season about Subban and some conflict with Coach Michel Therrien, but was that enough to ship him out of town? There has to be more to that story, because Subban was a force on and off the ice for the Habs and the team will now take a step back as a result. Was there really something irreconcilable within the organization?
Selfishly, as a fan of the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry, this hurts. Subban is hated through and through by Bruins fans and always seemed to poke the bear and add fuel to the fire in big games. I was looking forward to the potential match-up between Malcolm Subban, a Bruins goalie, and his brother PK. It may still happen, but it won’t be during the heat of a Bruins/Habs game.