June 29, 2016, is a date that very few Predators fans will ever forget. I still remember where I was, driving down the road listening to sports talk radio when my phone started buzzing over and over again, with different friends texting and calling. The radio host had just mentioned they had breaking news to report when they returned from break, but they said this all the time, surely it wasn’t ACTUALLY anything huge. I still had not looked at my phone when they returned from break, but was very curious why so many people were trying to get in touch with me and then… I heard it. ‘So it seems the Predators have completed a trade to send Shea Weber, yes, SHEA WEBER, to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for star defenseman P.K. Subban.’ I had to pull my car into a gas station parking lot so I could get on Twitter. So many thoughts flooded through my head “Weber is gone?!” “But Montreal gave us Subban?! Have they lost their mind?!”
The local radio show I was listening to at the time does not pride themselves on hockey knowledge, and neither do their callers. All they saw was that the Preds had traded Shea Weber. They would soon come to realize what the Predators got in return.
On his very first shot as a Nashville Predator, P.K. Subban fired a slap shot past Corey Crawford on national television before skating to center ice and showing Smashville one of his flashy, controversial celebrations for the first time in gold.
In the coming weeks, reality would set in. Subban was in a new city, playing with a new team, and a new partner. As you can see below, Subban’s overall regular season did not compare to his previous seasons in Montreal.
Subban had four year lows in assists, points, and plus/minus. However, he turned a corner in the last third of the season, scoring 22 points in the team's final 29 games before the postseason and we all know how he did for the two months that followed. The defensive pairing of P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm was absolutely dominant in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the first round, Subban spent more time on the ice with Jonathan Toews than any other forward on the Blackhawks roster. In the second round against St. Louis, that honor was for Vladimir Tarasenko. Western Conference Finals? It was Ryan Getzlaf who spent the most time on ice against Subban. Finally, it was Evgeni Malkin who Subban concentrated on in the Stanley Cup Final. So what’s the point, other than pointing out that Subban was responsible for a future Hall of Famer in every round of the playoffs? None of these men scored a 5v5 goal while Subban was on the ice in their respective series’.
Usually in sports, you are trying to limit the opposing team’s star player, and you are happy if you do. Subban did far more than that, he shut them out. For a guy who entered the playoffs with a -8 +/-, the switch was flipped as he countered his dismal regular season +/- with a +5 in the playoffs. Almost all of his ice time in the playoffs was spent with defensive partner Mattias Ekholm, and the two suddenly became one of the most feared defensive units in the league.
All in all, it took some time, but P.K. Subban was very good in his first season in Smashville.
Best Moment of the Season
Subban’s best moment of the season came in Game 1 of the second round when he scored 1 goal and had two assists on three lethal one-timers that led the Preds to a huge Game 1 win on the road.
Worst Moment of the Season
The worst moment for Subban was suffering an upper body injury on Dec. 15 against the Minnesota Wild. Initially it seemed the injury would force him to miss a game or two, but on January 1, he was placed on injured reserve and would not return to the lineup until Jan. 20 after missing 16 games.
Trending Up or Down?
Up. Way up. Subban started the season slow but once paired with Mattias Ekholm and given time to grow into his new role, Subban flourished in Nashville. He not only reversed his play, but he grew into a major leader in the locker room as well. If you don’t believe me on that, believe Pekka Rinne. In his letter to the Players Tribune after the Stanley Cup Final loss, he said P.K. was one of three players that addressed the team in the locker room after the game. He spoke a lot about P.K. Subban in the piece, far more than he did about any other player on the roster. I expect Subban to grow even further into his role here this year as he and the Preds try to make another run for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Final Grade: A-
How would you grade P.K. Subban’s performance this season?
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