This morning on TSN 690, Francois Gagnon mentioned that P.K. Subban shouldn't be considered an untouchable asset. To be very clear, he wasn't advocating for a trade, but rather proposing that if an elite centre becomes available, moving Subban may be a viable option.
In a sense, he's right. No players should be untouchable, including Subban. However, logically speaking, no team other than perhaps the Blue Jackets or the Bruins are willing to trade an elite centre.
Now, let's take a look at Subban's value in the NHL. It's fairly clear that he's one of the best defenders in the league.
He's finished in the top 3 in scoring on the Habs in each of the last four seasons and has been lights out in the playoffs.
His goals for percentage over that time is above 54%, and his Corsi For percentage is over 52%. On a team that has struggled offensively, Subban has excelled. He's also one of the few Habs players that attempts creative moves in the offensive zone. He's the lifeblood of Montreal's offense, and he's doing it as a defender.
Removing him from the equation would be robbing Peter to pay Paul. It would create such a massive hole on the back end that the Habs would be set back by a decade, unless the return happened to be a player like Connor McDavid. But, even if you get a massive return, you still create a new problem on the blue line. It would be like ordering a new rudder for your plane, and using the wings as payment.
There's no doubt about it, the Habs could use a legitimate #1 centre. As it stands, though, they have a player on the wing that could potentially fulfill that role.
Instead of creating a problem to solve another, the Habs should focus on giving Alex Galchenyuk a legitimate chance to flourish as a center.
The Panthers had no issues trusting Aleksander Barkov as their number one center from the get go and the trust is paying off.
In fact, as Andrew Berkshire pointed out, Galchenyuk has been doing quite well considering how inconsistent his usage has been.
Tweeted this before, but here's Galchenyuk at 21 years old compared to some solid #1 C's at 21 pic.twitter.com/0L51JlUVP1— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) February 1, 2016
Forget about trading invaluable assets to fill a pressing need. The Habs have the possibility to fill that need if they ever decide to trust Galchenyuk. He's done enough to deserve it. He's better defensively and offensively down the middle. So what's the problem exactly?
The fact is he will never develop into the mythical player the Habs have spent the last 20 years looking for if he's not given the chance to do so. If there's any hope that Galchenyuk will develop into a top centre, he needs to be trusted there, full stop. It's beyond time the Habs bite the bullet and allow him to progress in the right environment.
In the mean time, let's put the P.K. Subban trade talk to bed. It should die along with the Habs' playoff hopes this season.
The history of NHL trades that include superstars is littered with regrets. The only thing that could make this season worse for the Canadiens would be trading away one of the best defenders in the NHL.