Thursday Morning Warmup - Trading Subban

Bruce Bennett

We're going to do something a little different today for The Warmup. Usually I ask you folks a question or two, but today I'm going to rant. We'll see how it goes.

Last night on TSN's "The Quiz" it was decided that this P.K. Subban contract situation was going to end badly. So badly, that Marc Bergevin would end up trading Subban instead of signing him.

Quite honestly I don't believe a word of that. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I think the Canadiens are allowing that thought to percolate in the media, allow Subban to hear it on TV, and maybe drive his price down.

The reason I don't believe Bergevin is considering trading Subban is simply because I don't believe he's an idiot. Sure, we've questioned some of the moves he's made, but so far Brandon Prust seems to be a really solid hockey player, and that's been the biggest complaint.

Elliotte Friedman noted in 30 Thoughts on Monday about Bergevin:

Canadiens rookie GM Marc Bergevin played 1,191 NHL games. He recognizes Subban's skill set is hard to find. I'm beginning to learn about his philosophy and I think Bergevin strongly believes that, when building a franchise, you do not create "holes" with trades.

I think this is phenomenally important when it comes to the idea of trading Subban. If you can't create a hole in a trade, you need to trade Subban for a defenseman who can do his job. The Canadiens are looking to keep Subban's salary low for the next two years, so if you're trading him, you want someone who's going to be cheap. Subban is 23, so it needs to be someone who you can build a defense core around, someone young?

How many players in the NHL fill that criteria? How many would their teams even be willing to part with? It could be that Subban is slightly better than a comparable player, but organizations are always partial to home grown talent, as they should be.

The only defenseman that really fits the criteria all around is probably Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who's a year Subban's junior and plays a similar role for Phoenix. However I doubt very much that the Coyotes would even consider moving him. His reputation is slightly higher than Subban's and being younger, he may end up better. It would be a risk for them.

Another reason I just don't believe that Subban is going to be traded is that Bergevin and Molson are determined to change the way the organization does things, and for 25 years, the Montreal Canadiens have been trading away young players who they deem have "character" issues for little return.

The list is long, from Chris Chelios to Claude Lemieux, to Patrick Roy, to Mikhail Grabovski (not implying he's on their level, calm down), the team has let a lot of excellent NHLers go for bad reasons. A dispute over a couple million dollars for an elite defenseman is a very stupid reason.

Trading Subban would be a return to the Rejean Houle and Ronald Corey lead Habs. Subban's play is so far ahead of his reputation around the league, and it's nearly impossible for the Canadiens to gain fair value in a trade in that situation.

I don't believe Bergevin would pull this kind of move. All his moves and all his words speak to the future, and building off of the core already in place. He knows what Subban means to the organization.

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