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Analyzing the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade

A by the numbers look at the differences between Shea Weber and P.K. Subban.

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Now that the dust has settled, it is time to take a look at what this trade really means for the Canadiens moving forward. I was rather emotional yesterday when I discussed this move, but now that I've had time to calm down, I can take a more measured approach to analyzing this deal.

Unfortunately, the numbers don't make anything better.

The basic facts are as follows. Weber is four years older, and signed until he turns 40. Subban, on the other hand, is locked down until he turns 33. Weber's cap hit is $7,857,142, and Subban's is exactly $9 million. As a result, the Canadiens save just over $1 million against the cap for the time being.

Looking just at last year's numbers, it is clear that Subban is the superior player. The numbers favour him in shot suppression, shot generation, playmaking and point production, and most importantly, possession. Last year, Subban was clearly the better overall player.

The only category in which Weber is superior is in his ability to produce goals. Weber did a lot of scoring while on the power play, so it is important to consider overall shooting percentage. All-situations considered, Subban shot at 3.41%, whereas Weber shot at 10.58%.

At even strength, their shooting percentages line up a little better. While playing at five-on-five, Subban shot at exactly 4%, and Weber shot at 3.58%. The difference lies in their power play production, where Subban had a woeful 3.33%, and Weber had a ridiculous 27.08%.

So let's talk about the power play for a minute.

Weber has the hardest shot in the entire league, and probably, the world. It is no wonder that he is capable of producing power play goals at a rate that most NHL defencemen cannot. In this regard, it seems almost guaranteed that Weber can help the Canadiens.

That said, his shooting percentage is definitely inflated, and easily stands to drop before it increases. Subban, on the other hand, should definitely expect to see his percentage in those situations rise, as 3.33% is absurdly low for him. Weber has the better shot, there is no denying that, but there is a clear discrepancy in fortune here.

How much of that is due to systems remains to be seen. Weber should thrive in a Kirk Muller power play, but Subban likely would have as well. In any case, only time will tell if regression to the mean will befall either of the two, for better or worse respectively.

The above image illustrates the performance of the two over the course of the last three seasons. It paints an encouraging picture, as they are actually quite similar over that time frame. However, you again have to consider age, and that Weber is prime for decline, whereas Subban could easily maintain his pace through the end of his contract.

It does however provide some comfort that, for the last three seasons, they have been around the same in most of the important metrics illustrated. Weber is far from useless. He can help the Canadiens, the worry is whether he can help them as much as Subban would have.

And I would be remiss to ignore the turnover angle that seems to follow any discussion about the departing Subban. Yes, Subban commits more turnovers than Weber. But, you have to consider why exactly that might be.

As mentioned, Subban is a possession driver and Weber is not. When you have the puck on your stick more, you are bound to commit more turnovers. Many love to tout the Subban giveaway stat as meaning he is a defensive liability, when in reality it is a simple product of him always being on or around the puck.

And for one final statistical breakdown, I leave you with this.

In short, this is far from a great deal.

If the Canadiens use their remaining cap space to make a free agency splash at the forward position, this whole situation may become much easier to swallow. As it stands, statistical analysis dictates that the Habs have downgraded from their top defender, and for an older model to boot.

Weber is still a great player, and nobody should try to argue otherwise. The problem is that the Canadiens gave up a younger, and better player to get him. There is no two ways about it, Montreal would have been better off to stick with the player that they drafted, and eventually signed to a long-term deal.

Yesterday, I was emotionally charged. But the numbers do not lie, and upon review they say unequivocally that the Canadiens lost this trade.