Late yesterday afternoon, news broke that the Oilers had finally pulled off their long-rumored trade for a top defenseman. Details were sketchy, but the first name to emerge was shocking: all-star Taylor Hall. Next, we learned the identity of the other team involved: The New Jersey Devils. That causes confusion, because short of goalie Cory Schneider, the Devils didn't have anyone worth surrendering Hall for. Finally, we got the whole deal: Hall for Adam Larsson, straight up. The hockey world reeled. Larsson is a decent young player, but nowhere near a proven No. 1, and the Oilers had just given up one of the best left wingers in the world for him. This was, quite possibly, the worst one-for-one trade we'd ever seen.
And it held that title for all of about seven minutes.
That's how stunning the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade between the Canadiens and Predators was; it knocked all the Taylor Hall punchlines off your Twitter timeline pretty much immediately. By the time we found out, just a few minutes later, that Steven Stamkos had signed an extension in Tampa Bay, we all reacted like distracted parents. Sure, sure, Steven, that's wonderful news, but we're dealing with something important right now.
To even call the Subban deal a blockbuster would seem like under-selling it. This was something bigger, a trade that was both impossibly simple and ridiculously complex at the same time. It involves a pair of two-time first-team all-stars, both with massive contracts, both still in their prime or at least plausibly close enough. Players like that never get traded in the NHL anymore. They certainly don't get traded for each other, straight up, without any retained salary or picks or complicated conditions.
And to be clear: This is the Subban deal. With all due respect to Weber, who has been in the "best defenseman alive" conversation for much of his career and was still playing big minutes on a very good Predators blueline, he's not the best asset in the deal. Subban is three years younger and carries a far more reasonable contract. And most importantly, he's the better player.