P.K. Subban is taking his talents to Smashville as part of a major trade of two of the NHL’s top defensemen.
The Nashville Predators acquired Subban from the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday for captain Shea Weber, the face of their franchise for nearly a decade.
In Subban, the Predators got one of the most dynamic players in hockey, an offensive-minded superstar with a larger-than-life personality. And the Predators also hope he can help them get over the hump and win the Stanley Cup.
“I just feel good knowing that a team has moved someone to bring me in because they want me,” Subban said on a conference call.
“I’m just happy to be in a situation where I can excel and feel good coming to the rink every day about myself, about the team, about my position. More importantly I just look forward to trying to win a Stanley Cup. That’s your ultimate goal and I feel that I got a whole lot closer to doing that today.”
Nashville and Montreal each feel that way after the straight-up deal that made the Edmonton Oilers’ swap of Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson look like child’s play. Subban and Weber are All-Stars and were teammates on Canada’s 2014 Olympic gold medal team.
They are both defensemen, but Subban and Weber play different styles. The 27-year-old Subban is risk and reward, with 63 goals and 215 assists in his 434 games, while Weber is the big, strong dependable defender with one of the heaviest shots around.
Marc Bergevin trading Subban was “one of the most difficult decisions” he has had to make as Canadiens general manager. Subban was not always the favourite of coach Michel Therrien and others in the organisation despite his playmaking ability, but Bergevin said friction with teammates and the staff had nothing to do with the deal.
“What we got back is an elite defenseman,” Bergevin said, adding that fans “will soon learn to appreciate Shea Weber. He’s a different type of player, but he’s a very good player.” Bergevin applauded Subban for his contributions in the Montreal community, which included a $10 million donation to Montreal Children’s Hospital last year. Subban said he always felt wanted in the Montreal community after he was drafted in the second round in 2007, but stopped short of saying he felt unwanted by the Canadiens.
Weber, who turns 31 on Aug. 14, had been with Nashville since the start of his NHL career in 2005. He signed a $110 million, 14-year offer sheet with Philadelphia as a restricted free agent in 2012, but Nashville matched it to keep him.
In 763 games, Weber has 166 goals and 277 assists for 443 points. He’s signed at a cap hit of $7.86 million for 10 more seasons.
Subban said he was not surprised by the trade because there had been so many rumours since he signed a $72 million, eight-year contract in the summer of 2014. Subban’s no-movement clause that would’ve allowed him to block any trade was set to kick in on Friday.
“With a lot of the chatter that kind of happened over the little while, I’m a firm believer that usually where there’s smoke there’s fire,” Subban said while on vacation in Paris. “Obviously it’s a little bit surreal, but it happened.” Nashville GM David Poile said the trade was first discussed at the draft last weekend in Buffalo. It was worth it for Poile giving up Weber for Subban.
“Every game I’ve ever watched, P.K. Subban, I mean the guys will probably kid you in hockey operations, they will say, P.K. Subban is my favourite player,” Poile said. “I’m sitting there going, ‘Did you see that, did you see that?’ I’m a general manager but someday, I would like to be a fan. And this is a guy that I would pay money to see.” Getting Subban meant giving up Weber, who Poile said was “blindsided” by the trade.
“Obviously I was a little emotional this morning,” Weber said from his home in Kelowna, British Columbia.
“That’s obviously one of the first things that goes through your mind is that somebody actually wants you that much that you’re excited. I’m so thrilled and excited to be joining a great group of guys.”