Thursday, June 30, 2016

Breaking down the P.K. Subban trade, which was bad

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.

>> Read the full post at Vice Sports

1 comment:

  1. Possible advantages for the habs on this deal:

    Short term: Weber is stronger defensively than Subban (but not by a big margin). If Price is healthy, they may be taking a double-down approach on winning defensive-style games. That certainly fits Therrien's coaching style, and it's not like they're offensively dynamic anyways. Subban was a definite positive overall offensively, but still the habs had a long ways to go even with him in the lineup.

    Long term: In 5 years lets say Weber is a ~40 point per year guy, and Subban is still a ~60 point per year guy, and they're both roughly equal in terms of defensive abilities. I think that's a reasonably conservative projection considering Markov is still producing on that level at 36 and his peak was all-star calibre while Subban's & Weber's peak were Norris-calibre...

    What about as trade bait in ~5 years? Subban would have veto power and a short-term risk of leaving as UFA for any team that tries to trade for him. Weber won't. Additionally, Weber's actual salary takes a significant nosedive around that time, but Subban's won't (and Subban's next contract is likely to be at least medium-high too). Throw in a lower-revenue team like Arizona trying to get to the salary-floor (*cough* Datsyuk's contract *cough*) while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses, and Weber may become a more appealing trade chip at that time just based on remaining salary & years - even at a lower level of productivity.

    Overall, I agree the Habs didn't come out ahead on this deal. Yet. But that was also the universal opinion about the Leafs trading 2 first rounders for Phil Kessel once upon a time. In the end that could have worked out better for both teams, but did the Bruins really win that one afterall?