The Nashville Predators unveiled newly-acquired superstar defenseman P.K. Subban to their fans and local media on Monday. According to the Canadian Press, Subban had lunch with new teammates Mike Fisher and Ryan Ellis as part of his tour of the city prior to the press conference, where he sang Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”.
Subban told reporters he will always have fond memories of and connections to Montreal, but that he’s ready to move on, saying “coming here [Nashville] is not a popularity contest. Coming here is about helping this team to win and win a championship”.
Predators General Manager David Poile called his new acquisition a “superstar, game-changing defenseman and one of the most electrifying players in the game”. Poile was hopeful that the trade would help his team score more goals and spend less time in the defensive zone.
The Predators paid a big price to acquire the former Norris trophy winner, trading their captain Shea Weber to Montreal in a rare one-for-one trade. The June 29 trade is still a highly controversial topic; the Canadiens recently let go analytics consultant Matt Pfeffer after he submitted a “passionate” report in defence of Subban prior to the trade, in which he reportedly called Weber an “average player”. Earlier this afternoon, Pfeffer tweeted some context to the “average” remark, saying it was specifically with regards to one advanced stat category.
Subban and Weber each put up 51 points last season, however Weber scored more goals (20-6) in 10 more games (78-68). However, Subban has outscored Weber by 22 points (202-180) since 2012-13. Subban drives the play more than Weber, who is a more steady defensive defenseman. According to an analysis by Jonathan Willis, Weber relied on partner Roman Josi to make outlet passes, something that Subban excels at. Subban is also four year younger than Weber and just reaching the prime of his career.
Contract-wise, Subban is the highest-paid defenseman in the NHL. He earns an average of $9MM per year until 2022, while Weber’s cap hit is slightly lower at $7.86MM but doesn’t expire until 2026. Subban will be just 32 when his deal is up, only two years older than Weber is today. Weber will be 41 when his contract expires, which could lead to some nasty cap-recapture penalties for Nashville if he retires before then. Poile obviously feels the risk is worth it to acquire Subban, giving them possibly the best top four defense in the league with Subban, Josi, Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm.