Despite the rumours, very few still actually expected P.K. Subban to be traded. Having gotten over the shock of the trade that sent him to Nashville for Shea Weber, our writers offer up their opinions on this blockbuster deal.
Gordon Black: It is hard to evaluate this in terms of a straight up hockey trade because it has the feeling of so much more than that. To myself, many other lifelong fans and, I think, to the management and possibly roster of the team itself. I will start by saying this: you never trade a player like P.K. Subban. Ever. For any reason; and almost, for any return. The two biggest reasons, among many, are that his dedication and connection to the people of Montreal and the fans of the team go beyond the wins and losses that nobody remembers shortly after a season that doesn’t deliver a cup, and, that unless you are sure that whoever comes back WILL be better than him, it is never worth it. Given that Weber is a known quantity (and most likely depreciating despite his significant value now), and that Subban has continuously improved each season – it would take a sure thing on a scale non-existent apart from Connor McDavid to know that you will be better off.
That aside, the contracts are pretty much a wash. The lack of a NMC/NTC and the slight cap-savings offset the longer duration for the most part. The final years of the contract that would likely be the ones to be perceived as an albatross will be easily offloaded to one of the poorer teams in the league who want to save some actual money relative to their cap spending.
On top of which, Weber remains one of the premier defencemen in the league for now. I honestly don’t believe he is as good as Subban even now, before we get into a more significant age difference in a couple years – but, for now he gives the Habs something they haven’t had since Larry Robinson: A mean, physical presence that is one of the few players in the league that has a harder shot and more goals recently. By all accounts he is hated by opponents and loved by his teammates. The fact that I am ardently against this trade is not an indictment of Weber.
Weber will never be Subban. All analytic discussion that is now in the forefront of public debate after this trade, pales in the wake of the fact that Weber does not entertain the fans the way Subban does on (most importantly) and off the ice. If Weber for Subban was guaranteed to bring the Cup back to Montreal, it would go a long way to healing the wound just inflicted on the fan base – without it, the bar has been set unimaginably high for Weber.
The fans will have a hard time accepting this trade for the same reason I do – if you ignore all of the off-ice factors, this move does not clearly make the team better. Bergevin said they weren’t shopping him, that they would listen in case someone “offered half of their team”; and that didn’t happen. The management clearly wanted him gone for reasons of ego and personality that go beyond putting the best product on the ice possible. Most likely, if not for the impending NMC, they would have waited for a better offer – but it seems they had decided to move Subban regardless of the return.
I will close by noting that coaches play systems and have success by implementing plays that any player can make. X’s and O’s fill the board and players are told when to pass and where to skate. The plays are the same for all players (at least on that line), but nobody on the Habs can do some of the things that Subban could do. Some coaches realize what they have and plan around it – but pride can become a factor and talent can be wasted too easily in the name of following a plan that relies heavily on the other team making a mistake instead of your own players having more skill. It will come out in the next few days that management made this decision long before the few days since the draft. I hope they gambled well; but even a Cup victory next spring will seem tainted by the backhanded way the team treated one of its own that went out of his way to prove to the fans that he embraced this team for more than just a paycheck.
Matt Dilworth: I could write a novel of Stephen King proportions, and it still wouldn’t cover all the different ways that I am disappointed and devastated by this trade. To keep things simple (and PG-rated) I’ll just state the following: Nashville got the better player now, one that’s just hitting his prime, with untapped potential and with a better contract. On the other hand, Montreal saved a shade over $1M, and will have to deal with an albatross of a contract at some point over the next TEN years.
The only positives I could glean from this trade (believe me, I’ve spent every waking moment trying to think of them) were the following: Although in decline, Weber is still a very good defenceman, with a tremendous shot and his simpler game might be better suited for Therrien’s system. I think that he will be a great mentor for our upcoming defensive prospects, and if there’s any truth to the rumours about a divided locker room, Weber’s leadership will likely prove beneficial.
That’s all I’ve got.
I wish I could get into Marc Bergevin’s head and see what he could have possibly been thinking (besides the next fancy suit he’s going to buy). On every level, this trade doesn’t make sense in hockey terms. One can only conclude that PK was incompatible with what management wanted him to be; in this instance, this was likely a robot devoid of personality or creativity.
Brian La Rose: The potential for this to blow up spectacularly is there. That said, there’s also some potential for this to work out for the Habs.
In Kirk Muller, Montreal now has one of the better power play coaches in the league. In Weber, they also now have one of the most dangerous PP defencemen in the league. (Subban has never been a major scorer in this area.) Stick them together and there’s genuine cause for optimism that the man advantage could actually be a strength for this team instead of the glaring weakness that it has been the last couple of years.
Stylistically speaking, I think Weber’s a better fit right now for Montreal’s risk-averse preferences. Subban, for all the excitement he brought to the table, played outside the system a ton. Weber’s not the type of player who is going to go end to end and try to make something out of nothing. He’ll move the puck to the forwards and let them start the offence which is how the team generally played outside of Subban. It’s more conservative but that’s what the team seems to want.
I also think this could do a lot for Nathan Beaulieu. While the team was hesitant to partner him with Subban last year, I think they’d be more comfortable pairing him up with a safer veteran in Weber. If those two can play well together, that would open up the opportunity for Andrei Markov to scale back his minutes which would certainly be helpful.
I’m not all full of optimism here, don’t get me wrong. The 10 years scares me, though I’m a bit skeptical he’ll actually stick around that long. The fact that Weber is exiting his prime while Subban is in it right now is also concerning – the gap in talent will grow between the two as the years go by making this a short-term move by Bergevin. I’m also a bit more convinced that there were some off-ice concerns and it’s always disappointing if that winds up being a determining factor in any trade like this. When you’re dealing a franchise player, it needs to be for hockey reasons first and foremost and there seems to be cause to question if that was indeed the case here.
Looking at Subban for a moment, I think this is a good fit for him as well. In Nashville, it won’t all be on his shoulders like it was in Montreal; the pressure won’t squarely be on him. I think that can really work in his and Nashville’s favour.
This is the defining move for Marc Bergevin. It’s going to be really interesting to see how it plays out.
Alex Létourneau: No surprises here. Nope. We all knew one of the most exciting players in the game was going to be swapped for a tenured, well respected and top of the line defenceman.
I was never expecting Subban to be moved. Not even close, not for a minute. And if I flirted with the idea, I didn’t think it would be Weber coming the other way. Pretty shocking stuff. From what I gathered from the local media, we’re in mourning. The homers are up in arms and management is to be burned at the stake.
I like the trade.
Subban, while an exceptional talent, is not a dependable defenceman. He will bring you to your feet with his raw talent and athleticism, he will win you a couple of games and he’ll sell merchandise – not least his own as he wore in interviews consistently over the CH gear. He’ll also lose you games. He is not the guy I want on the ice when the game is tied late because he can lose it for you just as much as he can win it. I don’t like 50/50 with the best defenceman on the team with games on the line. I always got the feeling it wasn’t Habs first for him.
I want Mr. Dependable back there who when they make a mistake, your reaction is not “(swear word) again. Typical. What’s he thinking?” Weber is not that guy. He’s among the elite defencemen in the NHL. Note that I mean defence, not offensive defencemen – and even then, he can score and put up points. This is a guy that understands and listens to coaching. He’ll break you with a body check or a slap shot. He was captain of the Preds. The Habs didn’t trade Subban for nothing, they got back one of the best in the business at the moment.
I understand the knocks full well. He’s older, more mileage in a tougher conference, almost $8 million for another 10 years. This contract will probably be terrible in 6-7 years, but I think the window in the next 4-5 years got bigger. Bergevin needs to follow up with a scoring C/RW with the cap savings on the deal, but right now I’m a little bummed to see P.K. leave yet very happy to welcome Weber to the fold.
Paul MacLeod: In brief, it is a stupid, short-sighted trade. In the long term it could be disastrous for Montreal especially if Weber continues in what many perceive as the early stages of his inevitable decline. My biggest problems are that Montreal is giving up the younger player with more upside and should have gotten more in return. If this was Subban for Weber plus a prospect and a first round pick it would not be as stomach churning. Another problem is that this trade doesn’t address the glaring need in the top six.
The only way that this trade looks good for Montreal is if the Habs win the Cup in the next two to three years. We have to hope and pray that Bergevin has a hell of a free agent period to make up for this deal. On the anniversary of the atrocious Chelios for Savard deal it looks to me like Les Canadiens have badly lost another generational trade. I can only hope that time proves me wrong – and that Weber emulates Jaromir Jagr and stays a high quality player for a long time.
Craig Scharien: In a true shocker the Habs actually traded all-world defenceman P.K. Subban. I tend to be pretty optimistic about the Habs, but this one hurts. Not just because of the remaining term on Shea Weber’s contract – which expires when he is 40 – but the team and city are now without one of the really great guys in hockey. That’s not to indict Weber, but in P.K. they had someone that brims with enthusiasm and personality and had made an investment in the city. We’ll miss PK a lot, and not just on the ice where he is dynamic and exciting and continually striving to improve upon his already tremendous play.
Now Weber seems like a good guy too, and he brings a completely different style of play to the Montreal blue line. He brings physicality, a mean streak and plenty of offense, including an absolute cannon of a shot. Lost in the anguish of losing a fan favourite is the fact that Montreal got a perennial All-Star and Norris trophy candidate in return. Weber is a proven leader in the room that will go to battle every night for his team whether it the Habs or as a member of team Canada. We’ll miss P.K., but Weber is no slouch.
This isn’t the perfect trade, and it’s clearly a heartbreaker for Habs fans (myself included), but they could have done worse than Weber. What has become clear is that Bergevin and company are clearly looking to make the Habs more difficult to play against – and with the additions of Shaw and Weber, they have done so. The troubling part is that in doing so they are shipping quality people out of town, and along with them they have called into question a quality that they apparently covet: their character.
Norm Szcyrek: Subban traded for Shea Weber??!! Where to begin analyzing this bomb of a trade. Weber has much more term remaining on his deal, which will expire when he’s 40, compared to the 6 years remaining on Subban’s contract. The age difference is significant since Weber is 30 years old, and Subban only 26. Weber plays a more physical game than Subban and logs as many minutes, scoring at about the same rate. Despite reports that Weber is in excellent shape, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be close to that when the last few seasons of his contract come up.
From Nashville’s perspective, it’s a very odd trade to comprehend. You’re trading your captain, a guy who has never complained about playing for the Predators and has been an excellent leader for them, often playing hurt for his team. His well-documented RFA offer sheet from Philadelphia made him one of the highest paid defencemen in the league at the time 4 seasons ago. Since most of that contract was front loaded, he’s already been paid the majority of the money. So the Habs’ cap hit for Weber will be higher than his actual salary most years. Because of that, trading a player in that position is puzzling. If the Predators had wanted to move him, then the Flyers may have still been interested in getting him. On the surface, they gave up a #1 defenceman and got another one back, so why even make this move?
This trade will easily go down in Canadiens history as the least popular one by fans, exceeding the Patrick Roy and Chris Chelios deals. Subban was well liked by everyone in the community and everyone who calls themselves a Habs fan. Unfortunately he wasn’t popular with his coach and by extension his GM. What caused the Canadiens to make this move after the rumours of trading Subban were repeatedly denied by Marc Bergevin? We may never know the exact reason since the politically correct Montreal Canadiens business machine rarely trash any ex-player of theirs. His head coach was not a fan of his when he was employed by RDS as an analyst, reportedly denouncing Subban’s play on the ice several times. Therrien was known to throw Subban under the bus in the media the past few seasons. There’s no questioning Subban’s work ethic on and off the ice. At times he may be trying to do too much, trying to force a play instead of making a conservative one. But there’s no way anyone can say his effort level wasn’t there all the time.
There are speculations that the organization didn’t like all of Subban’s endeavours outside of hockey; this is likely due to the fact that they may not have been communicated about them in advance and may have wanted to spin them in their favour if they could have. There were many rumours that P.K. was too brash, too flashy and this rubbed his teammates the wrong way. No player has ever confirmed that, even when Subban played for the Olympic team or the World Junior team. P.K.’s personality is huge but maybe the Montreal organization didn’t care to employ someone who was bigger than they are?
In the end, the Habs get a very good player and gave up a very good player. While Weber will eventually be liked by fans, he will never be loved the same way Subban was. Bon chance P.K.! Merci!