So is Shea Weber actually an ‘average’ NHL defenseman?

Shea Weber and P.K. Subban at the 2016 All-Star Skills Competition (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Some things in life are not terribly fair. And in the case of the P.K. Subban trade, much of the trade has become a referendum on the merits of Shea Weber. Last I checked, Weber didn’t ask to be traded to one of the most hockey-mad cities on the planet for a player who was universally loved by its fan base. And former Canadiens analytics consultant Matt Pfeffer, whose comments to thn.com about Weber have landed him in the crosshairs of critics, doesn’t deserve to be put through the wringer the way he has.

I feel badly about the latter. Pfeffer is a 21-year-old who is a bright, hard-working kid who’s doing some groundbreaking work when it comes to analytics. We had a very candid conversation Friday afternoon about the Weber trade, perhaps in retrospect for him, a little too candid. He spoke about the trade of course, but also the place of analytics in the game and how hockey is still finding its way. But the comment that seems to be drawing the most ire was when he said: “There’s nothing wrong with being average in the NHL. An average NHLer is worth a heck of a lot and that’s what Shea Weber is.”

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The five early off-season moves that will have the biggest impact

Brian Elliott (Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s still nearly three months until the NHL campaign opens, which will leave the league’s 30 teams with ample time to tune and tweak their rosters as opening night approaches.

However, a few teams have made big splashes this off-season. Some have gotten creative, such as the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers, by trading for a player’s exclusive negotiating rights to ink them to a deal before free agency opened, while others have gone the more traditional route, like the Boston Bruins, who shelled out a five-year, $30-million deal to David Backes.

Meanwhile, some clubs have gone the trade route, with the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators linking up to make one-for-one deals that both teams hope will improve their situations going forward.

And though there are still a number of free agents who could sign and make a difference next season, the biggest names are off the market. So here are the five off-season moves that have been made (so far) that will have the biggest impact this coming season: Read more

‘Analytics hasn’t reached maturity in the NHL yet': Matt Pfeffer

Shea Weber and P.K. Subban at the 2016 All-Star Skills Competition (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Matt Pfeffer had made peace with the fact that the Montreal Canadiens were going to trade star defenseman P.K. Subban. But he didn’t think dealing Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber was a good idea and he made his feelings known to Canadiens management. But Pfeffer is not convinced that is why his contract as an analytics consultant with the Canadiens was not renewed.

“They didn’t tell me it was over that,” Pfeffer told thn.com. “But I guess everyone knows now where I stood on the Subban-Weber trade. There are times when there’s some possibility that there would be another side to the argument, but this was one of those things where it was so, so far outside what could be considered reasonable. I made a pretty strong case, but I made the case that the analytics made. This wasn’t a personal thing.”

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P.K. Subban arrives in Nashville for the first time, sings Johnny Cash

Jared Clinton
P.K. Subban poses with fans in Nashville (via Nashville Predators)

P.K. Subban touched down in Nashville for the first time as a member of the Predators on Sunday, though it’d be hard to tell because Subban looks like he fit right in.

Subban, 27, was acquired by the Predators on June 29 — days before a no-movement clause was set to kick in on his contract. The deal was an earth-shaker, one which sent Nashville captain and two-time Olympian Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens, but with the dust finally starting to settle on the trade, Subban took the opportunity to head to his new home and pull on a Predators jersey for the first time.

“It feels good to be in Smashville,” Subban said. “Wearing this jersey just feels right.”

His day in Nashville was about more than simply wearing the jersey, though. Subban took to the stage at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to serenade Predators fans with Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” which the Predators captured for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Read more

Which players could take on the six vacant captaincies?

Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Four players became first-time captains in the NHL ahead of the 2015-16 season, each to varying degrees of success.

In San Jose, Joe Pavelski took over as captain after years of speculation that he was the next in line to wear the ‘C’ for the Sharks. In his first season, he helped lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup final with an impressive post-season performance.

Pavelski was joined as a new captain by Max Pacioretty, who donned the ‘C’ for the first time and did so as a member of arguably the most storied organization in the history of the sport, the Montreal Canadiens. Pacioretty’s Canadiens flew out of the gate like an early Cup contender, but an injury to Carey Price derailed Montreal’s season.

Also joining the captains club were Nick Foligno, who was chosen to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Andy Greene, selected by the New Jersey Devils to take the captaincy from the retiring Bryce Salvador. Both teams missed the post-season, but took some strides forward that have both fan bases hopeful for the coming campaign.

While four new captains may seem like a lot, there’s potential for as many as seven first-time captains to take over major leadership roles in 2016-17. Anze Kopitar has already been handed the ‘C’ for the Los Angeles Kings, but that still leaves the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers without captains. So, will those clubs have a captain this coming season and, if so, who will stitch the ‘C’ to their sweater? Read more

Subban denies problems with teammates, says memories with Canadiens are all good

Jared Clinton
Andrei Markov (left) and P.K. Subban (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

There may never be a clearcut, simple answer as to why the Canadiens felt it best to trade P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators in a blockbuster deal that brought Shea Weber to Montreal, but Subban said he doesn’t believe that it had anything to do with his off-ice relationships.

In the second part of a revealing two-part interview with Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, Subban was asked about his relationships with players in the Canadiens dressing room. There was a perception, Engels told Subban, that at times he didn’t get along with teammates in Montreal. There had been late-season reports of possible tension between Subban and Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty.

“I’d have to disagree with that,” Subban told Engels. “With the guys that I’m with every day — that I travel with, that I play with — we’re all different. But at the end of the day, I’d like to hope these guys respect me. I respect them, and that’s really what it’s been built on.” Read more

Canadiens’ Bergevin has ‘moved on’ from Subban trade, Weber will wear ‘A’ in Montreal

Jared Clinton
PK Subban (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was a trade so unexpected it required a double-take when the news broke, but Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin says he’s ready to move on now that the dust has settled on the deal that sent P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber.

In speaking with NHL.com’s Dave Stubbs, Bergevin said there was much thought that went into the swap of star defensemen with the Predators, but it didn’t take long for him to be all right with the decision. In fact, Bergevin said it was almost immediate, moving on from the trade as soon as it was agreed upon.

As for why he made the trade in the first place, Bergevin said it had nothing at all to do with Subban’s personality — “I always say, ‘You don’t want 23 robots,’” Bergevin said — but rather with the chance to really improve the Canadiens.

“Everybody’s different, everybody brings different things to the table,” Bergevin told Stubbs. “But at some point I had to make a hard decision where I thought I could make the team better. That’s when we pulled the trigger. And those who insist the trade was made to please [coach] Michel Therrien? That’s [nonsense]. Mike didn’t know anything — anything — about the trade until after it was made.” Read more

Buffalo Sabres push hard for NCAA star Jimmy Vesey

Jimmy Vesey (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

According to Mark Divver from the Providence Journal, the Buffalo Sabres sent an armada to Boston in the hopes of convincing left winger Jimmy Vesey to sign with the franchise. Vesey, whose rights were acquired from Nashville in the lead-up to the draft, is skating in his hometown and has a frenzy of activity surrounding his free agency decision.

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