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Examining trade speculation around P.K. Subban

The Nashville Predators were eliminated by the Dallas Stars in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last week. With the Predators failing to make it to the second round, trade rumours around top defenseman P.K. Subban have begun to swirl.

The Predators won the Presidents’ Trophy last season and made it to the second round. They didn’t make any major changes in the offseason and it led to them being upset in the first round in 2019. This had led to speculation that GM David Poile might make a major move this time around.

Subban is an incredible talent, but he comes at a steep price. The former Montreal Canadien is the highest paid player on the Predators with a $9 million cap hit. He posted just 31 points in 63 games this season — the lowest output of his career. His 22:40 average ice time was fourth-most on the team.

The Predators are known for their “Big Four” on defense. They have a stellar blueline that includes Roman Josi, Ryan Elias, Mattias Ekholm and Subban. Josi will be a UFA at the end of 2019-20 and will  be looking to get paid. Ellis will start a new contract next season paying him $6.25 million against the cap. With the upcoming 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft, the Predators may not be able to protect Subban and may want to deal him before losing him for nothing.

Subban understands the business side of it and provided a great quote when asked about the trade speculation surrounding him.

Jason Botchford of The Athletic was on TSN 1040 recently and presented a potential scenario in which the Canucks could acquire the 29-year-old from Nashville. The hypothetical deal was complicated and involved the Canucks taking on the contract of James Neal in a trade with the Flames and then using pieces acquired in that trade to get Subban from Nashville.

Why it makes sense

The Canucks acquiring Subban would improve the team significantly. There’s no denying that. Subban could quarterback a lethal power play with Quinn Hughes and change the dynamic on the blueline. He’s an elite puck-moving blueliner who would make any team better.

There are certainly some question marks on the blueline right now for the Canucks. Alex Edler is a pending RFA and there are concerns about Finnish defensive prospect Olli Juolevi. Subban is a right-shot defenseman and the Canucks are lacking on that side.

Making a blockbuster trade to acquire Subban this summer would make sense because you could argue it would help the Canucks take that next step and get back to the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Why it doesn’t make sense

Aside from saying you traded for Subban and having a player of that caliber on the roster, it doesn’t make much sense for the Canucks to try and acquire him. We all know what Subban brings to the table at this point. He’s an outstanding defenseman who can control player from the back end. He also has a larger than life personality and enjoys the spotlight. How would that gel with the young core the Canucks are developing? Subban is great off the ice and does fantastic work for charity, but is this really the time you would want to acquire him?

Subban will turn 30 in May. He’s coming off his worst offensive season to date. He had a fantastic 2017-18 campaign with Nashville, but you could argue his best seasons came four-five years ago in Montreal when he won a Norris Trophy and hit the 60-point barrier. He’s been slowed down by injuries and has missed 50 games over the last four years. How much longer will he be able to produce at this level?

Trading for Subban would do significant damage to the Canucks’ future. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion Jim Benning won’t trade Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat or Quinn Hughes. With those players off the table, it would need to be a significant haul to bring in Subban. The Predators would almost certainly be looking for a top offensive prospect such as Tyler Madden or Kole Lind in addition to some variation of Vancouver’s 10th overall pick this year or a first and/or second-rounder in 2020. You wouldn’t be able to trade a middle-six player like Jake Virtanen and a pick and expect to acquire a marquee player like Subban. It just isn’t realistic.

Even if the right deal was on the table for the Canucks, they would need to shed some salary cap before taking on that contract. Subban is getting paid $9 million for the next three years. Boeser is going to be getting paid this summer and the Canucks need to make sure they have enough money to pay their young talent. Even if they make some moves this summer, they will likely be looking to free up some cap space before doing so.

If the Canucks truly wanted to make a big splash this summer and improve their blueline on the right side, why not just try to sign Erik Karlsson? Karlsson is a year younger than Subban and will be a UFA at the end of the 2018-19 season. If the Canucks feel it’s necessary to add a big name to their defense in the offseason, it would make more sense to sign a free agent and lose nothing instead of trading for Subban and losing assets.


There’s no denying the Canucks could use an elite right-handed defenseman for the future. Given the likely cost of acquiring Subban, it wouldn’t make much sense for Vancouver to give up a big chunk of their future to try and acquire him.

It’s very possible Subban does get traded this season. Nashville has a great defensive core and GM Poile has a history of making major moves. He traded Shea Weber for Subban back in 2016 and also dealt Seth Jones to Columbus for Ryan Johansen.

A Subban blockbuster trade could go down this summer, but it’s hard to see the Canucks being a part of it.

  • Even if Benning suddenly became progressive enough to make these kind of moves (doubtful) and even if the Canucks could manage to wrangle Dube & a 1st for taking on Neal’s contract, flipping them to get Subban seems pretty counter productive.
    Subban is for a team who’s all in right now. Dube & another 1st would be fantastic pieces for the rebuild. If I’m trading them for players to jump start the rebuild, it better not be for a player that will be 35 when Petey is 25. Dougie Hamilton may no longer be available now that Carolina has made this run but that’s the age & type of player Vancouver should be looking for (save the flip and acquire Hanifin?). I’d even be more inclined to use the assets to trade up for Byram if that was the direction they were headed.
    Between Subbans age and the fact I like my #1 d-men to be more solid defensively (more Josi than Subban) this idea gets a hard pass from me.

    • Yeah my first thought was take Neal for those assets and forget about Subban.

      In my opinion you shouldn’t bring in a big personality like P.K. to a young team anyways. If Subban isn’t going to be your leader then he needs to slide in to a group that has a strong vet leadership group IMO. Like Kane in S.J.

      If Benning can move Spooner and/or Eriksson, I don’t mind taking on Neal at all. If he can get back on track next season he’s the type of player teams could pay for at the deadline.

      • Yes forget Subban if Calgary would give up a list of assets to the Canucks for nothing go for it. But not sure if there will be such a thing as a trade where all the players in a transaction go to one team and nothing back to the other team.

  • I wouldn’t do it. Subban is too much older than the members of the Canucks young core, and they would just have to give up way too much to get him. And if this season is any indication, Subban may be on the decline.

    And aside from that, I don’t think the Canucks are that far from being competitive. If they add a capable second-line forward in the first round this year, a good offensive RHD in the first round next year (Drysdale or Barron?), and luck out with one or two of their later round picks, they should have a decent team fairly soon.

        • What you mean like Tom Brady, Elway, Manning, Michael Jordan, Steve Nash, Roger Federer etc.

          Or in hockey the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings (51-17-10-4, 116 pts.) –
          Average Age: 30 years, 5 months, 1 days. Or Nic Lidstrom, Stevens, Borque, Hasek, Brett Hull, Tim Thomas, Gordie Howe too name a few. meh. Barring severe injury PK Subban is years away from being over.

  • It’s not worth overpaying for a player with only 3 years left on a contract before they can walk as a UFA. If Benning acquired Subban back in 2016, at least it would have made sense from a contract standpoint because he’d have 7 years left, the maximum you could sign a non-roster UFA for anyways.

  • A better salary dump trade is to acquire Marleau from Toronto if they upgrade one of our later picks to a 2nd rounder. Even if we just swap our 3rd for their 2nd, we get a proven scoring winger to help next season that we can afford, we improve our chances of finding another RHD outside of the 1st round (we move up about 20 spots), Marleau gets closer to home in his final season, and Dubas solves part of his salary cap problem. Win-win-win everywhere. If we can upgrade a later draft pick instead, even better.

    • It’s a good idea, but it’s unlikely to happen – Benning hasn’t made a single move like this in five years, and Marleau has a no-move clause. He has resettled his family in Toronto and isn’t likely to want to move again.

      If Toronto does move Marleau’s contract, it’ll likely be to Buffalo, Ottawa, Montreal, or another city in the East that’s that’s a quick hop home for him.

  • never! for either of them. someone and a pick makes sense for a #3-4 dman that will fit with hughes tho. i like the idea of ben harper on d and ferland at forward. the whole team will be energized and a lot more confident. somebody has to take the heat off horvat!! the one guy we have who will play and fight is hurt until xmas. lots of skill and speed, but where is ‘tough’? and don’t even Think about kadri! yikes

  • I think its a solid move, but Botchford’s idiotic idea of adding Neal (Erickson part 2) and another 4 years of his contract (while we still have Erickson) is a no fly zone. Nashville is at the cap crunch, and very few contenders can afford that cap hit. I’m not paying more than Tanev, Dipeitro and a future 2nd round pick. If that’s not enough, just move on.

  • Hope this trade never happens. He is an ageing, declining asset at a super premium price. If he cant light it up in Nashville, what is he going to do here for the next two years until we are ready to compete for a deep playoff run?
    More made up offseason nonsense. The fact that Botchford is involved proves the stench of futility and nonsense is strong in this one.

  • I think a LOT of people like to spend their time coming up with very stupid convoluted trade/”weaponizing cap space” scenarios that are hopelessly unrealistic. Said people should maybe spend more time living their lives than living it through constant 24 hour a day hockey speculation. The fact that some of these said people might actually get paid for this kind of stupid speculation….well….that just goes to show the depth of the problem.

      • Yeah, he’s pretty bad. I didn’t mind some of the stuff he wrote for the province but overall he’s usually a bit of a click bait type who would rather do nonsense like this than decent analysis which he can be good at if he wants to. But fans are to blame as well, for consuming this stuff. No way I’d ever pay for any content of any kind, that’s for sure. It’s just hockey. Way more important stuff to spend actual money on.

        • Just read the news about Botchford. I was no fan of his work, but this is a terrible tragedy for his family. Thoughts going out to them. Unbelievable.

    • On the other hand, Karlsson has been great for San Jose. Better than a point a game. And he’s a UFA who will cost nothing but $. I really hope they go after him.

  • The Canucks have a pretty promising core of Horvat, Boeser, Petterssen, and Hughes….and I’d add Demko to that list as well. They also have promising depth with Madden, Lind, Juolevi, Di Pietro, and Woo. I’d be much more focused on adding to that youthful core with players that can grow and evolve with them than sacrificing away from what we have for parts we really don’t need. Subban is a great player but there just isn’t the fit here, we can’t start trading away what took years to get as we are still a long way off to being where we need to be. If there’s anything we’ve learned in recent history it’s that shortcuts do NOT work, I’d only trade away picks and prospects when we have so many that we really don’t have room for them all…..and we aren’t close to that yet.