Habs GM Bergevin Sets Priorities: Trade Subban?

Written by Steve Farnham, AllHabs.net

MONTREAL, QC. — Today, owner, CEO and president of the Montreal Canadiens Geoff Molson, named Marc Bergevin the 17th general manager in team history. It was specially exciting for many Montrealers to wake up this morning to the news that Pierre McGuire had not been hired for the general manager position. Those who didn’t really know who Marc Bergevin was prior to his hiring, are getting to know him now. With just one press conference and a few interviews, it appears to me Bergevin is making quite a good impression.

So many items to tackle in such little time for Bergevin, such as hiring a new coaching staff and addressing who to resign amongst upcoming unrestricted free agents (UFA) and restricted free agents (RFA), most notably goaltender Carey Price.

Already today, we saw that Carey Price is a priority for him, when he said:

“Today is my first day, so I’ll take my time and evaluate the players, but when you talk about the foundation of the team, Carey Price is one of the best young goalies in the National Hockey League. If you have a goalie like Carey Price, you’re ahead of the game.”

Good on him for saying this, as Price should be the number one priority, but what about others? I’m talking about the priority to trade P.K. Subban before the trade deadline.

For some time now, I’ve been seeing people push the agenda that Subban should be traded away from Montreal, mainly due to the fact that his eccentric way of being could end up hurting the team more than what he brings to the team on the ice. A few days ago, I decided to play voyeur to a Twitter conversation, which centered around how the Canadiens, without GM at the time, should trade Subban away for the first overall pick, in order to draft Nail Yakupov, currently ranked and expected to be the first overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

Nobody is denying the fact that Nail Yakupov is a star and a stud, and should he stay healthy is expected to become a star in the NHL. In his two seasons playing for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL, his stats have been quite impressive.

Nail Yakupov – OHL Stats

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
Nov-10 Sarnia Sting OHL 65 49 52 101 71 -2
Dec-11 Sarnia Sting OHL 42 31 38 69 30 15
Dec-11 Sarnia Sting OHL 6 2 3 5 4

Chris Edwards from Central Scouting had this to say about him:

“His first step and ability to control bouncing pucks, knock them down and make a play are the best of any of the guys in the draft, he really gets up to top speed very quickly and his hands are outstanding. Like Pavel Bure, Yakupov is dangerous every shift. He may not have been dominant on every shift like Bure was, but he created something every shift … you have to be aware where he is on the ice all the time.”

Yakupov sounds like a player all 30 NHL general managers would love to get their hands on, but would it make sense for the Canadiens to want to trade away their upcoming star-defenceman Subban, for the right to draft him first overall?

Subban, who was Montreal’s second-round pick, 43rd overall, in the 2007 NHL entry-draft is still only 22-years old, turning 23 this 13th of May. What Subban gets a lot of heat for, is his attitude on the ice which often gets him into the penalty box, and we’ve seen this over the course of his two NHL seasons. Although many consider this past season a bad one for P.K., I see it more as a two-fold season, where he had a lot of difficulty up until the scuffle with Randy Ladouceur, after which things settled down and got a lot better for him.

Sure, he only had half of the 14 goals he obtained in his rookie season, but overall, he was only two points short of his rookie season total, all while improving his plus/minus differential by 17.

His 36 points had him first amongst all Canadiens defencemen, and fifth in points on the team. That’s as many points as Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings) and two more than Niklas Lidstrom (Detroit Redwings) who I hear are pretty good.

At his young age, his 24:18 average ice time per game put him 14th overall in the league. Lots of minutes for someone with such little experience. Money in the bank some would say.

Another interesting stat, P.K. Subban shoots a lot. No really, he shoots a lot! In his rookie season, he finished with 197 shots on goal, and came back this season pouring another 205 shots on the opposing nets. This stat becomes impressive, if you compare this to Yannick Weber who finished second amongst Habs’ defenceman in the shooting category, with his 88 shots on net. Kaberle who is known to avoid shooting at all costs, preferring the passing option was third with 87 shots on goal. It just makes you wonder who would be shooting the puck at the net from the blue line if Subban were not around.

P.K. Subban – NHL Stats

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
Oct-09 Montreal Canadiens NHL 2 0 2 2 2 1 14 1 7 8 6
Nov-10 Montreal Canadiens NHL 77 14 24 38 124 -8 7 2 2 4 2
Dec-11 Montreal Canadiens NHL 81 7 29 36 119 9
NHL Totals 160 21 55 76 245 21 3 9 12 8

I often feel like many of the frustrations people have with players such as Subban are the fact we create unrealistic expectations. I remember debating in the last offseason on the possibility of Subban getting twenty goals this season. Mission Impossible I said at the time, and I can understand how people who create an expectation for themselves that he will score twenty goals, could be disappointed in a season where he only scored seven. Is he to blame for the expectation YOU created? If you don’t think twenty goals is difficult to obtain, just look at Erik Karlsson, who lead all NHL defenceman with a 25 point lead over his competition, and still came up one goal short from the twenty mark.

Let’s compare Subban’s first two seasons with the early seasons of a few other defencemen. More precisely, will look and see how many seasons it took those defencemen to reach the 76 points Subban currently has.

Zdeno Chara

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
1997-98 New York Islanders NHL 25 0 1 1 50 1
1998-99 New York Islanders NHL 59 2 6 8 83 -8
1999-00 New York Islanders NHL 65 2 9 11 57 -27
2000-01 New York Islanders NHL 82 2 7 9 157 -27
2001-02 Ottawa Senators NHL 75 10 13 23 156 30 10 0 1 1 12
2002-03 Ottawa Senators NHL 74 9 30 39 116 29 18 1 6 7 14

As we can see, his early years were not exactly like Subban’s, playing less games, getting less point production, and appearing to be a liability more than aid with regards to point differential. It was only really in the 2001-02 season that he started finding his groove, and blossomed the following year at the age of 25. Although I’m not exactly sure how many games it took Chara to reach the 76-point mark, but we can see it took the better part of five seasons and some dust.

Dan Boyle

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
1998-99 Florida Panthers NHL 22 3 5 8 6 0
1999-00 Florida Panthers NHL 13 0 3 3 4 -2
2000-01 Florida Panthers NHL 69 4 18 22 28 -14
2001-02 Florida Panthers NHL 25 3 3 6 12 -1
2001-02 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 41 5 15 20 27 -15
2002-03 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 77 13 40 53 44 9 11 0 7 7 6

Boyle’s ascension to the NHL was a bit more difficult, in his case, he spent much of his early years travelling between the NHL and AHL. With regards to points, much like Chara, he only really started to produce in the 2002-03 season, when he had reached the age of 26.2

 Shea Weber

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2005-06 Nashville Predators NHL 28 2 8 10 42 8 4 2 0 2 8
2006-07 Nashville Predators NHL 79 17 23 40 60 13 5 0 3 3 2
2007-08 Nashville Predators NHL 54 6 14 20 49 -6 6 1 3 4 6
2008-09 Nashville Predators NHL 81 23 30 53 80 1

In Shea Weber’s case, the ascension happened a little bit faster than the former two, but he only reached the 76-point plateau in the 2008-09 season, when he was 23 years of age.

There are many more comparables that could be used, like the fact Niklas Lidstrom also only had seven goals in his second season, or that Duncan Keith only had two, but I think I’ve made my point. When it comes to point production, at the age of 22 going on 23, Subban is ahead than many great defencemen of the game today.

So now if we go back to that earlier conversation about trading Subban for the rights to have the first pick of the draft, essentially in my eyes, you are saying that you are ready to trade away (using grade school ranking system below, A, B, C…):

  • A rank “A” defenceman, with potential to be an “A+”
  • A rank “A” draft pick, with potential to develop into an “A+” player.

For:

  • A rank “A+” draft pick.

It’s good to wish upon a star, if that star happens to be Yakupov, but who would play the minutes that Subban plays on the backend? Who would fire away the shots from the blue line at the level Subban does? Sometimes, I’m simply not sure where people get their ideas — in this case trading Subban. He’s the most talented young defenceman we’ve seen in Montreal for quite some time, so let’s not only be patient with with him, but let’s recognize what he’s done so far, as we have a tendency (like opposing teams) to focus on the negative aspects, rather than the positive.

(Photo: QMI/Stats: Hockeydb.com)

 

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About the Author

Profile photo of Steve Farnham
Born and raised in the Montreal area, Steve is an Associate Editor and Senior Writer at All Habs. Steve started playing hockey at the age of four, played as a goaltender as high as Junior AAA and was drafted to the QMJHL. When he isn’t writing about the Canadiens or twiddling with HTML code on the website, you can usually find him sharing his sarcasm on Twitter where he enjoys the never-ending hockey arguments. Steve also works as an analyst for Rogers Communications and enjoys the fact that his downtown office is only a five-minute walk from the Bell Centre. On the personal side; Animal Planet, poutine, the colour blue, the word ‘weaponized’ and Pepsi are just a few of Steve’s favourite things.

12 Enlightened Replies

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  1. bleublancrouge says:

    Hey. Firstoff, really cool post – even better some I’ve read on NHL.com…and I’ve read MANY! lol…anyway, just for argument sake, say we could get the #1 pickk in a trade that would most likely involve not only Subban and the Habs top pick plus who-knows-what-else…I don’t think it would be worth it. Imagine how good Subban will be this year when he plays with MARKOV (most likely wont be paired with him but at least on PP and key situations)! Montreal had a very distracting year, and hopefully that era of sh*t is over, and we will see lots of upgrades during off season. I predict Subban will have his best season next year, and that Yakupov is overrated. I think Grigorenko or Forsberg will do just fine for us ;)

    • habsrule says:

      anyone who thinks we should trade subban needs to seriously consider if hockey is really there game…seriously if you do not see pk’s star rising you need to take up tddly winks or the yoyo…something simple because clearly you have no understanding of hockey….yes we could trade pk because 29 teams would love to have him….but only an idiot would do that thankfully bergevin is no idiot !!

    • habsrule says:

      you are the same idiot who was clamoring to trade chelios…how well did that work out genius…you need to take up another sport you clearly do not understand hockey….

  2. Number31 says:

    Anyone who thinks trading PK Subban is a good idea has immediately revoked their right to complain about the trading of Ryan McDonagh, and subsequently every other trade the Habs have done.

  3. Gary says:

    Seriously, has McDonagh trade not taught us anything?

  4. Chantal says:

    Wow, 205 shots on goal! Plus all the shots that never made it, hit the glass or a body, he must have shot 907 times.

    You know what we need more of here? Patience. This instant gratification part of the fan base needs to understand that players take time to reach their potential, especially defensemen! PK might hit his prime at 27 years old.

    I think he’ll be worth the wait.

  5. Kevin says:

    Trade Subban are you kidding me, he will be one of the top 3 d-men in the league for years. How about sign R. Suter to pair with him for a top pairing. Then we have Markov-Gorges as our second pairing. Instead of thinking about trading up I would trade our #3 pick along with Kaberle (to unload his salary) & Nokelainen to Colorado for Paul Stasnty (only 26) and gives us a #1 centre we’ve been looking for. I would also ask for Colorado’s 2’nd round pick either this year on next. Yakupov & Grigorenko will go 1 & 2 and Colorado would love to grab Forseberg at #3 to play with Landeskog & O’Reilly. Then O would trade for Chris Stewart (only 24) and in Hitchcock’s doghouse. He had a big year with Stasnty in Colorado a coup,e of years ago. I think Bourgue may get him if not throw in Diaz.

  6. Received via All Habs email:

    Are you nuts? Trade Subban? You’ve got a top 2 D man for the next 10 yrs. You’ll lose Markov & Subban in the next 24 months. You have to be an idiot to do that. Look how foolish we look with McDonogh playing with Rangers in playoffs. HR logged over 50min in the triple OT the other night. He’ll be reminding us of the Subban trade for the next 10yrs and now you even have the stupidity to mention trading Subban? C’mon you must be a leafs or bruin fan in disguise!

    Joe Sardano

  7. habsrule says:

    you are so wrong i don’t know where to begin….trade a future all star for a russian forward who like so many of them might only show up when the mood suits him or better yet bolt to the khl…whatever you are drinking you better stop before you hurt yourself….do me a favour check out the chelios trade and let me know how good that worked out for the habs…hockey 101 teams are built from the net out thats because excellent goalies are hard to find and excellent d men are the next hardest when you have one you do not trade him..try watching tiddly winks its a simpler game you may be able to understand because clearly hockey is too complicated for you!!!

    • Chantal says:

      If your comment was aimed at the author, may I suggest you go back and read the article in its entirety?

  8. Gary Smith says:

    Montreal better concentrate olearning how to draft better, as few good free agents want to play there..Gainey and Gauthier destroyed this team for years, Gomez, Kaberle, Yikes..

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