June 29th, 2016 is a date that will go down in the Montreal Canadiens history books. Fan favorite P.K. Subban was traded. There had been speculation since the Canadiens’ dreadful season ended that Subban would be on the move before July 1st, and that speculation turned into fact. While the city erupted and spewed hatred at the Montreal Canadiens for doing the unthinkable, Shea Weber the man who was coming to town to replace Subban, was forgotten.
Initially Habs fans looked at trade headlines and simply saw “Montreal Canadiens Trade P.K. Subban” and stopped there, not accepting that there was a player worthy of coming into Montreal to take his spot. Fans asked themselves who could possibly come in and give us the production, entertainment value and was a number one defensemen? As tough as it is to hear, Shea Weber might be that player.
As the city calms down, smoke clears and gains perspective, let’s take a look at who the Montreal Canadiens traded P.K. Subban for: two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and five time NHL All-Star Shea Weber.
Shea Weber was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft at 49th overall. He began his pro career with the Preds during the 2005-06 season where he split time with the Milwaukee Admirals and the Predators. In 2010, Weber was named captain of the Predators and continued as captain of the team until the trade on June 29th. His totals with Nashville were 166 goals, 277 assists for a total of 443 points in 763 games. From 2005-06 to 2015-16 he posted eight seasons above 15 goals (Hockeydb).
As for his awards and recognition, where do I begin? Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist for Canada (2010, 2014), five time NHL All-Star (2009,2011,2012,2015,2016). He was named to the NHL First All-Star Team twice (2011,2012) and the NHL Second All-Star Team twice (2015,2016) along with the NHL’s hardest shot in both 2015 and 2016. His most recent accomplishment, which surely made Marc Bergevin happy, was the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award in 2015-16.
Look at that, Weber is actually pretty good at hockey. As you can see the background check on Weber is impressive. He is always among the first to be called on to anchor the Team Canada defence core and has established a reputation around the league of a steady, reliable player and leader throughout his professional career.
What Weber Brings to the Canadiens
Shea Weber is the model for stability that you want in a defenseman. The only thing unfortunately that is working against Weber is his age. At 30 (turning 31 before the 2016-17 season) he will be four years older than P.K. Subban so you wonder how many “stable” or “effective” years he has left. In the long-term, odds are the Canadiens are on the losing end of this deal strictly for that reason. However in the short-term, the Canadiens won this deal.
Weber can play in all situations. Firstly, despite what fans may think, he will be an upgrade with the man advantage. 14 of Weber’s 20 goals this past season came on the power play which makes him more dangerous than Subban on that front along with the hardest shot in the NHL. Again, he won’t be as flashy but he will be more effective. Fans need to separate the exciting end to end rushes and effective play. Another fact is that Weber trains in the offseason at times with MVP Carey Price. An established relationship between Price and Weber should increase the chemistry with the defence and Price which greatly benefits the Canadiens.
Lastly and most importantly, he brings leadership to the Canadiens. There had been reports of a disgruntled dressing room which clearly attributed to the departure of P.K. Subban and other players. That won’t happen with Weber. He is respected around the league for his leadership abilities and has been more than successful in his stint as captain of the Nashville Predators.
Shea Weber is exactly what the Canadiens and Marc Bergevin want in a player. P.K. Subban was loud, entertaining and carried a big personality. Sometimes that personality overshadowed the team, which in Montreal, wasn’t appreciated by the organization or the players. I’m in no way saying that was right or fair but with the Canadiens, the logo on the front means more than the name one the back which is something Canadiens fans need to realize. The players will come and go but the team and the history of the Canadiens will be forever. As a fan it’s hard to take the emotion out of a trade like this but you need to gain some perspective and move on.
Weber isn’t going to make the jaw dropping, jump out of your seat rush from end to end but he will provide stability, score at least 15 goals and improve the Canadiens as a whole both on and off the ice. A proven leader, elite and respected number one defenseman are hard to find in the NHL, and the Habs just got one.
Welcome to Montreal Shea Weber, we’re excited to have you.
Nick Guido is a Montreal Canadiens Contributor for The Hockey Writers. You can Follow him on Twitter @nickguidoTHW for his articles, opinions and general Habs talk.