The Big One
The one everyone has talked about since season’s end. The trade that would answer the prayers of Nashville Predators fans everywhere. Let’s trade P.K. Subban. Quick note: I don’t think the Predators will trade Subban and I don’t think they should. Outside of the first half of this past season when he dealt with injuries, Subban has been every bit of the elite, Norris Trophy winning defender he was with Montreal the past two seasons in Nashville. He also was their best defenseman in the Playoffs and it wasn’t even close.
However, the Predators do have a need for more offense, and he is the most expensive piece on their roster. If the Predators want to make a play at some of the big name free agent forwards, they need to clear cap space. Unfortunately, that means Subban has to go.
For those fans who are calling for Ryan Ellis‘ head, IT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. Next season will be the first year on Ellis’ new contract. A contract which David Poile was willing not to agree to unless it did not contain a No Trade Clause (NTC). Since that is the case, he is not going to trade Ellis in the first year of that new deal. If he does, no free agent would ever sign with the Predators again without having a NTC in their contract.
Fair warning: this trade will disappoint you. But, bear with me. There is a higher purpose. There are two things that make trading Subban difficult. The obvious one is his cap hit of $9 million per year for the next 3 years. The second impediment is how he is perceived throughout the league. Far and wide, Subban is seen as a huge ego and a distraction in the locker room. Evaluators have proclaimed Subban as in decline or not Norris Trophy-caliber anymore. Those to factors will hurt his market value. Without further ado, I give you the Subban trade.
I am sorry to disappoint you. Before you say it, I know this doesn’t bring back a goal-scorer for the Predators. I know the value may not seem to add up. But, hear me out. As I mentioned before, Subban has a diminished market value since the trade to Nashville. The rumors that came out about why Montreal would trade a recent Norris Trophy winning, anchor of your defense, kind of player in his prime hurt his value. The fact that Predators fans have called to get rid of him ever since he got here, hurt his value. Also, his regression on the ice has hurt his value. Oh, and $9 million per year hurts his value too.
Why This Works for Both Sides
I will start with the Carolina. They are currently leading 3-0 in their series against the New York Islanders and have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. So, why would they want Subban? They probably wouldn’t. But, they wouldn’t not want him either. Carolina has a strong young core on the blue line. They also are in the hunt for more offense.
By taking on Subban, they have a pleothora of highly skilled defensemen whom they can bargain with in the trade market. They could flip Subban or keep him and trade any of their other top four or five guys. They currently project to have $28.5 million in cap space before signing their free agents. That is more than any other team next season. They can afford to keep Subban and to add veteran presence along with skill to their already solid defense core.
The Predators get a younger, cost-controlled defenseman. More importantly, van Reimsdyk would be an upgrade over Dan Hamhuis, Yannick Weber, or Matt Irwin while also keeping a top-two pairing spot open for Dante Fabbro. Fabbro proved more than capable to take on a larger role next season and moving Subban will give him that opportunity.
The draft picks are key. Nashville traded its 2019 2nd round pick to the New Jersey Devils for Brian Boyle. Carolina pick will end up being no more than eight slots lower than the Predators pick would have been. So, the Predators get to recoup what they lost to gain Boyle. The 2020 conditional 3rd rounder is even better. If Subban Finishes with 45 points next season, it will become a 2nd round pick. If Subban wins the Norris Trophy, it becomes a 1st rounder.
The Predators could potentially get a steady top-six defenseman, a 1st round pick, and a 2nd round pick. They also save $6.7 million in cap space. That is huge for their goal in free agency.