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.”
We just had an honest-to-goodness hockey trade in the middle of summer. The New York Rangers have sent Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in 2018 to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a second-rounder in 2018. Let’s get into the details, shall we?
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.”
Before a trade or signing gets announced, a fan base can feel one of two things: giddy anticipation or a nervous panic. The difference is confidence.
When a front office makes a few good moves in a row, the fan base is confident that’ll continue. A few bad moves in a row and it’s more like “what did they do this time.” Front office confidence is earned through a good process and good results.
So it stands to reason that the best front offices are the ones that fans are the most confident in while the worst ones hold the least confidence. The fans aren’t always right, but with the amount of moves that get made every year it’s hard not to notice some trends among teams, good or bad.
After the blockbuster trades that happened just before free agency, and the mega deals that were signed right after, I was curious to see what the consensus opinion was for each team’s front office.
I created a survey asking people to rank each team’s front office in six different categories based on how confident they would be if that front office was running their team instead. The categories in question are roster building, cap management, drafting and development, trading, free agency, and vision.
Jonathan Bernier is heading back to California after the Toronto Maple Leafs traded the goalie to the Anaheim Ducks.
In return, the Maple Leafs get a conditional 2017 draft pick, but in a sense it’s a completion of the June 20th trade between the two teams that sent goalie Frederik Andersen to the Maple Leafs. It seems in all likelihood Bernier would have been included in that original deal, except he was owed a $2-million bonus on July 1. The Maple Leafs could afford to pay the bonus then complete the goalie swap on Friday.
The deal ends Bernier’s unremarkable career in Toronto after three seasons. He was acquired in a 2013 trade with the Los Angeles Kings and never lived up to high expectations placed on him by the Leafs former front-office group.
Welcome to NHL free agency day 2016.
Stay tuned to THN.com for up-to-minute analysis of all the biggest deals, as they happen.
The Lightning kicked things off in a big way on Wednesday by signing Steven Stamkos to an eight year extension. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t big names that will be on the move Friday, and beyond.
Get acquainted with who’s available by checking out our list of the Top 30 (now 29) free agents. You can also check out a list of every move made so far this off-season in the Transactions Log.
Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. Oh, baby. What a trade. Even if most of us agree the Nashville Predators won the deal by acquiring the younger, currently better Subban, this was a legit hockey trade. Weber still finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting this past season. We witnessed a swap of two players still close to the top of their class at their position.
Was Weber for Subban the most significant 1-for-1 trade in NHL history? We can make that case given both players are in their primes. The Hartford Whalers dealt Chris Pronger to the St. Louis Blues for Brendan Shanahan in 1995. That was a helluva straight-up deal, involving two future Hall of Famers (and player safety execs), but Pronger was a kid at the time. He hadn’t yet blossomed into his Hart Trophy form. It may seem bigger than Weber for Subban in hindsight but, if we factor in each player’s status when the trade happened…Weber for Subban wins.
We’ve probably seen bigger blockbusters than Weber for Subban, but it’s awfully tough to find those in which a single player went for a single player. Pierre Turgeon for Pat LaFontaine? That deal involved six players and a pick. Eric Lindros for Peter Forsberg? The Nordiques got half a team in that trade along with Foppa. Luc Robitaille to the Penguins for Rick Tocchet? A Second-rounder went to L.A. along with Tocchet. Dany Heatley for Marian Hossa? Nope, the Atlanta Thrashers got Greg de Vries, too. Even Martin St-Louis for Ryan Callahan included the Tampa Bay Lightning acquiring draft picks.
It’s extremely rare to find a pure 1-for-1 matching the magnitude of Weber for Subban or, heck, Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, which happened in the same friggin’ hour. Scott Stevens went to the New Jersey Devils in 1990 for Shanahan, but that wasn’t a trade. Stevens was awarded as compensation for the Blues inking Shanahan.
So Weber for Subban thus may have the title belt. We could keep going and dig through every trade in NHL history, but there are only so many hours in the day – which happens to be the eve of July 1, free agency day. So I’ll let you toss out more candidates in the comment section. And I’ll present the 10 biggest 1-for-1s of the salary cap era, factoring in players’ status at the time of the deal. Brian Elliott for Craig Anderson may sound like a major move today, but it wasn’t when it happened in 2011. This list factors in which 1-for-1s blew us away in the moment.
During a 2011 NHL playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, iconic ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ play-by-play man Bob Cole exclaimed ‘Everything is happening!” during a frantic series of play.
It has become a go-to saying for hockey fans, especially on Twitter, during periods of excitement or big news. It can definitely be applied to what happened on Wednesday afternoon.
While many fans, pundits, and media sat and waited for big news to start happening on Friday during the official start of free agency, several teams swooped in and made a series of blockbuster moves. Each move on its own could have carried a news cycle for a day, but three came in such rapid succession that it nearly “broke the internet”, as they say.
Here’s a timeline of what went down on Wednesday: