The Nashville Predators had their best contending years from 2016-2019 with P.K Subban as a centerpiece of the blue line.
The Subban-for-Shea Weber trade was perhaps the boldest move of GM David Poile’s tenure. Twelve months later, the Predators were in the Stanley Cup Final, falling two wins short of a championship. The next year, the team had its best regular season ever and won the President’s Cup before a disappointing loss in the second round of the playoffs to Winnipeg.
The Predators thrived with Subban in the lineup. But it cannot be discounted just how wild the original trade was, and how little Nashville received in return for Subban when it traded the defenseman to New Jersey after the 2019 season.
The team will honor Subban on Monday. Let’s take a look back to seven years ago.
P.K. Subban comes to Nashville
The trade: Predators traded captain and defenseman Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for Subban on June 29, 2016.
Why did it happen? Weber was 30 and was four seasons into a 14-year, $110 million contract. The contract is so long that it still has three more years on it after the current 2022-23 season. It still carries a $7.85 million cap charge each season through 2026.
The headline: “WEBER FOR SUBBAN? ACTUALLY, YEAH” from the front page of the June 30, 2016 edition of The Tennessean.
The quote from Subban: “…they moved a great player and their captain to bring me in. Obviously that shows a team wants you.” Subban in the June 30, 2016 print edition of The Tennessean.
The quote from David Poile: “I really feel like that the way the game is being played now, how we’re acquiring our players, our decision-making process, it would start at the top with players like P.K. Subban.” Poile in the June 30, 2016 print edition of The Tennessean.
What happened to Shea Weber in Montreal? Weber’s six seasons in Montreal were plagued by injury. He missed the entire 2021-22 season before being traded to Vegas as a virtual cap dump. He not played this season, and Weber’s foot and ankle injuries have casted doubt as to whether or not he will play again.
P.K. Subban’s tenure ends with trade to New Jersey
The trade: The Predators traded Subban to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies and a second-round pick in 2019 and 2020.
The 2020 pick was used in the trade to acquire Luke Kunin, who is no longer on the Predators roster. Egor Afanasyev, a Russian center selected with the second-round pick after a trade down, has been OK in AHL Milwaukee but is not busting the door down to get to the NHL.
Davies and Santini combined for 24 games with the Predators over two seasons and are presently elsewhere.
Why did it happen? Cap space. The Predators needed space to extend Roman Josi and sign Matt Duchene. Given Subban’s age (30) and salary ($9 million) at the time, it was a sensible move.
The headline: “Salary cap, Fabbro key reasons for Subban trade” from the June 24, 2019 edition of The Tennessean.
The quote from Subban: “We got close to our goal — didn’t achieve what we wanted while I was there and that hurts.” Subban on Instagram in June 22, 2019.
The quote from David Poile: “We had to make a business decision. With an aim at strengthening our forward corps this offseason, and the continued strength of our defensive group, we felt it was necessary to clear up salary-cap space this way.” Poile in June 22, 2019 Tennessean story.
What happened to Subban in New Jersey? Subban’s numbers slumped as he aged with a rebuilding team. In three seasons, Subban played 189 games and had 17 goals with 42 assists and a -45 plus/minus. The Devils did not make the playoffs in his three seasons, and Subban retired at age 33 following last season. He now is an ESPN analyst.