The Edmonton Oilers made a horrible trade Wednesday by sending elite left winger Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for second-pairing-at-best defenseman Adam Larsson.
Not even a half hour later, the Montreal Canadiens one-upped them by making an even worse trade.
P.K. Subban, a former Norris Trophy winner and one of the top five or seven defensemen in the NHL, was dealt to the Nashville Predators. The Canadiens’ return? Shea Weber.
Let’s start by saying Subban is in the prime of his career as an elite skater, a top power-play quarterback and someone who creates scoring chances and drives puck possession. He’s a legit, No. 1, franchise-cornerstone defenseman. And he’s three years younger than Weber, too.
Trading that kind of player for someone who is well past his prime in Weber is insane. There’s no other way to describe it.
Weber, in fairness, isn’t horrible by any means. He’s a physical presence all over the ice, and he blocks shots, brings tremendous leadership and has plenty of playoff experience. But you don’t give up a player of Subban’s caliber for those qualities.
Here’s a statistical comparison, involving analytics, of Subban versus Weber. Subban rates as a top-pairing defenseman in five of the six categories.
Let’s move to the contract comparison. Spoiler: this is a loss for Montreal, too.
Weber is owed an average of $7,857,143 (also his salary cap hit) until his contract expires in 2026, at which time he’ll be 40 years old. Subban has a salary cap hit of $9 million through 2023, when he’ll be just 33 and still a quality player.
If Weber’s contract wasn’t bad enough for someone who’s past his prime, don’t forget about the cap recapture penalty.
From a business perspective, Subban is box office. His personality and exciting style of play sells tickets and merchandise. He’s also great in the community. He’s fantastic on and off the ice.
For the Predators, this deal is a home run. They get rid of a bad contract to an aging player and acquire an elite player at the same position. Nashville’s blue line is stacked with talent, including the likes of Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Barrett Jackman and now Subban.
The Canadiens were one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference when Subban and former MVP and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price were healthy. They were two wins from the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.
Their window to win a Stanley Cup has closed more with this trade. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Thumbnail photo via Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports Images