NEW YORK, NY – Today’s the day. It’s he first day of NHL free agency. And it’s really the only important day. Most of the unrestricted free agents that are worth anything will be signed by the time you’ve read this paragraph. But the biggest hockey news of the week will surely be a couple of blockbuster trades. For now, though, the headline is: NHL Trade Horror: Canada Gets Skinned...
The NHL is coming off of a season in which no Canadian team made the playoffs for the first time in a generation. So a couple of Canadian teams decided to kick off the offseason by practicing their self-immolation routines. News came Wednesday that the Canadiens had traded away marquis defenseman PK Subban to Nashville for marquis defenseman Shea Weber. Subban was a fan favorite in Montreal. And for good reason. He is without doubt one of the best defenseman in the NHL. He has his faults, most notably a petulant streak and a lack of toughness. But he
is was the best two-way defenseman in the eastern conference.
Shea Weber is a great defenseman in his own right. He’s been a staple on the Nashville blue line for years, he’s got a 100+ mph slap shot and he brings some toughness to the table. But he’s not PK Subban. The Canadiens got hosed in this one. The trade makes little to no sense when you look at the tale of the tape. Subban is the better player. He’s four years younger than Weber. And while PK’s cap hit is over $1million higher than Weber’s ($9mil for Subban, $7.8mil for Weber), Subban’s contract runs through 2022 as opposed to 2026 for Weber. So the Habs are getting a less skilled, older player for roughly the same money, except they have to pay him for four more years. What were they thinking?
Not to be outdone, the Edmonton Oilers completed an idiotic trade of their own. They traded away points machine Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for halfway decent defenseman Adam Larsson. This trade made the Oilers much worse offensively than they were last season and only marginally better defensively. The Devils will definitely see a boost from this trade. They had trouble bulging the onion bag last year and the addition of Hall could get the Devils a lot closer to the playoffs. The Oilers will probably be playing to swindle another #1 draft pick out of the NHL. These Canadians can’t be trusted.
Today we’ll most likely learn the fates of free agents David Backes, Andrew Ladd, and Islander Kyle Okposo. I think Backes would look great in a Ranger uniform, but the Alain Vigneault Rangers don’t sign tough centres (Canadian spelling) who win faceoffs. Steven Stamkos re-signed with Tampa earlier this week so he is officially off the market.
The Rangers have a lot of money to spend with the Boyle, Yandle, and Eric Staal contracts coming off the books. But they also have a lot of holes to fill. Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi have been trade fodder for the last month or so in the local papers, but no deals got done and with free agency starting today I think it is less likely that either of them will be traded. But what the hell do I know?
Oh, and the Mets finally won a game last night.
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