The Nashville Predators have made plenty of trades over the years, but only one shook the NHL to its core. Who won the deal? We may not know for years to come.
Every generation has moments that they remember. They remember exactly where they were when they saw or heard about something happening. People of a certain age remember where they were when John Kennedy was assassinated. Folks that came along a little later remember where they were when Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. We all know where we were during 9/11. Big news events have that effect. The biggest news event in the history of the Nashville Predators had a similar effect on me.
It was a mid-week day game for the Cincinnati Reds. I was working at the ballpark as I typically do. The game ended with a Reds victory, and I walked towards my car with a woman I had quite the crush on at the time. It was a good day. Then I got to my car & looked at my phone & received the news I least expected to hear as a Predators fan at the time.
Shea Weber traded?
From everything I saw & heard, there was no indication that this was coming. Weber was the unquestioned top player on the team, along with being the captain that had just received the Mark Messier Leadership Award. Sure, his performance against the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of that year’s Second Round was completely pathetic, but everybody has games like that, and nobody in the world thought that would be the last time we saw Shea Weber in a Nashville Predators sweater.
In most cases, I would have completely lost my mind. You know where I’m coming from if you’re reading this. All Predators fans loved Shea Weber. He set the table for what this franchise has become. There were many years where Weber was the only Nashville Predator that most hockey fans could identify. He was an excellent defenseman with a hard slap shot & a natural ability to lead. Those types don’t grow on trees. Nashville was lucky he fell to them in the draft and took full advantage of his talents.
For P.K. Subban? OK.
My first exposure to P.K. Subban was through a Yahoo post about Boston fans complaining about him. Subban was with the Montreal Canadiens at the time, and apparently, they have a pretty bitter rivalry with the Boston Bruins. They had a playoff meeting where Subban made a big play, and this led to many Bruins fans making racist statements on social media. Hard to believe that a good northern town like Boston would be full of racists, am I right?
I immediately became a P.K. Subban fan. I became even more of a fan when I realized that he had charisma. For whatever reason, the majority of hockey players cannot be charismatic and connect with other people. Subban has that ability. That’s the reason why I didn’t lose my mind when I heard that Shea Weber got traded. He got traded for the only defenseman I would have accepted in exchange.
They play different styles, for sure. Weber is more physical, while Subban is more of a showman. They both have hard shots. Weber is more the type to end up in a fight while Subban is more the type to cause a fight. Canada prefers Weber’s game, while the media is more drawn to Subban.
Who won the trade?
See, here’s the thing. Different markets need different things. Nashville needs marketable players much more than Montreal does. The Canadiens put butts in the seats no matter who’s on the ice. Montreal has the most successful franchise in the history of hockey. St. Louis is endlessly celebrating winning one title…Montreal has twenty-four to their credit.
So I will forever defend the trade based on the fact that P.K. Subban is more marketable than Shea Weber. They are both lights-out defensemen & can make the difference on a good team, but P.K. does a better interview & is better at reaching out to the community. He has a deal with Montreal’s children’s hospital & started up a program in Nashville connecting police officers with children. Simply based off of that, I’m inclined to say that Nashville won the trade.
But we have to look at stats. So let’s look at the stats.
Weber put up 17 goals & 25 assists for 42 points in 78 games. This was his worst showing since 2012-13, which was the shortened season where everybody only played 48 games. It was an obvious dropoff from his most recent years. He got some All-Star votes and ended up sixth in the Norris voting.
Subban had 10 goals & 30 assists for 40 points in 66 games. The man played twelve fewer games than Weber and nearly equaled him in points, and took the Predators further in the playoffs. The advantage has to go to Nashville & Subban here, though Weber’s power play goal total of 12 is pretty sick. When was the last time the Predators had 12 power play goals in a season?
Should we even waste time talking about this? Weber was limited by injury and only played 26 games. The Canadiens didn’t even make the playoffs, and Weber’s absence certainly played a role in that. The Nashville Predators won the President’s Cup, and Subban certainly played a role in that. Subban also ended up in third place in Norris Trophy voting. The advantage goes to Nashville…though the fact they didn’t finish the job & win the Cup certainly has to be noted.
Here’s the funny part. Subban is younger than Weber by several years, so one would assume that he would take this year as well. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND. Both men faced injury issues this season. Weber played 58 games, ending up with 14 goals & 19 assists. Subban played 63 games, ending up with 9 goals & 22 assists. The Predators made the playoffs while the Canadiens didn’t, but since Nashville exited in the first round it’s not like we can give Subban too much credit there.
I have to give the slight edge to Weber here, especially since he got the Montreal captainship this season. Being the captain of the most successful franchise in NHL history means something. The fact that Subban never officially got the letter on his sweater in Nashville kind of told us that his days were numbered. He was always loosely affiliated with the leadership group but never given the title. Yeah, we knew what that meant.
From the second I heard about this trade, I thought both franchises were getting what they needed. Montreal needed a top player that wouldn’t do anything controversial & keep quiet while playing hockey. Nashville needed a top player with a personality that would draw a crowd while playing hockey. That’s exactly what happened. Montreal got their leader, Nashville got their top draw. Everybody was happy. Until Subban got traded to New Jersey.
I understand the salary cap implications and why it was a smart move for the franchise. But I also understand that Shea Weber’s contract can come back to bite the Nashville Predators in the ass. If he has to retire before it expires, there’s a cap recapture deal that would screw Nashville over. It’s part of this whole Cup window thing that Nashville has going right now. The Predators need to win the Cup soon because there’s a lot of things coming up that won’t make it a possibility. Weber’s contract, the current player contracts, all sorts of factors make this a short term thing.
If the Nashville Predators win the Stanley Cup this year or next, they will have won this trade. If not, it will have been all for nothing, and we can only hope that Shea Weber doesn’t choose to retire before 2026-27.