Here at On the Forecheck, we keep an eye out for the latest rumors about the Nashville Predators so you don’t have to. Right now, that’s doubling as solving the cap problems of Metropolitan teams who signed bad defenders for a lot of money in free agency and whose fans have now realized this and cried out for help.
Pittsburgh in the Pits
Strange news has struck late as word out of Pittsburgh (brought to our attention by our SBNation sitemates Pensburgh) sent shockwaves throughout the online hockey community and beyond when the shocking piece found here was published Monday.
It appears as though the Pittsburgh Penguins have found themselves in a bit of a quandary when it comes to needing to shed some salary, and the Penguins’ brass may be willing to part with an 8.75 million dollar cap hit by trading away Justin Schultz and Jack Johnson. It appears to be a desperate attempt from a desperate team, struggling with their recent and shocking sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders, to desperately rebuild that team, which will surely continue to struggle in the face of their recent defeat.
On the other end of the proposed trade is none other than P.K. Subban, the multi-talented, Norris-Trophy–winning defender, who seems to be the first hockey player to be making an attempt at an EGOT.
Hockey fans will be quick to remember the cheers and adulation Sidney Crosby received from his adoring followers as he sat on Subban and bounced his head repeatedly off the ice during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Championships back in 2017. Is there a world in which these two men, so diametrically opposed to one another, could somehow find a way to peacefully coexist in a locker room? Think of the Listerine brawls! Think of the awkward silences and staredowns! Think of the reality TV shows! Unfortunately, this trade will never work because Subban and Crosby will never work...at least not in Pittsburgh...
Hear me out.
Allow me to make, what I consider to be, a modest proposal to help a desperate team in a desperate time—for we all know, from the popular children’s tale, that it is much better to take advantage of a desperate team than to be a desperate team:
Trade Sidney Crosby
Yes, Sidney Crosby to Nashville. The Subban-Crosby dynamic duo will only work in Nashville. No, it can’t work in Pittsburgh.
Sidney Crosby is the Captain—the Big Man on Campus. In Pittsburgh, Subban, with his incredible personality, would be expected to go along with Crosby’s leadership, and that’s just a bad plan when two strong-willed people have had conflict in the past. However, when Crosby rolls into the Nashville locker room, he won’t have that problem, because Subban doesn’t wear the C...or even an A.
Crosby and Subban can just be two regular guys with a role to play on a hockey team. And, of course, having been part of a major trade, Subban can really provide some good perspective as he helps introduce Crosby to the organization as well as Nashville (the pedal taverns, the honky-tonks, the celebrity bars)!!!
While, at first, this may seem like a bitter pill for Penguins fans to swallow, it’s clear that the Penguins need to shed some cap space in order to clear the way for signing their next scoring superstar. Trading Schultz and Johnson for Subban actually doesn’t help Pittsburgh...at all! The Penguins would wind up taking on an extra quarter-million dollar cap hit by taking Subban’s contract! Dumping Sidney Crosby on the Nashville Predators might not be the greatest deal for the Predators financially, but we have to look at reality here.
The Nashville Predators actually have a lot to offer in exchange for accepting Crosby’s contract with its 8.7 million dollar cap hit until the 2024-25 season (an astronomical amount for an aging center that managed to tally a whopping 1 point in his team’s losing playoff effort this season). Let’s take a look at what the Penguins can get in return:
Sure, Matt Irwin has one less point than Sidney Crosby in the playoffs this year, but it took him four fewer games to not score any points than it took Crosby to score one! And guess what? He will only cost $675,000 towards the cap! Even better about this team-friendly deal? It only lasts for one more year! If it doesn’t work out, then you can easily let him go to free agency without any further worries.
You saw Irwin’s stats and got greedy? Guess what? The Predators can complete your third pairing by sending Yannick Weber your way as well! His playoff numbers and contract match Matt Irwin’s exactly, and Pittsburgh can get both of these guys for the low, low price of $1.35 million.
Now, it’s understandable that the $7.35 million in cap space that dumping Crosby will free up may not make up for the lack of veteran presence and leadership in the locker room that he’ll leave behind... Nashville can sweeten the deal with none other than:
Before you say to me, “This man is an unrestricted free agent, you can’t trade him OR his rights!” let me say to you: he doesn’t even have to play! He can (and will) just sit in the locker room. He came back to Nashville from the New York Rangers in exchange for the coveted seventh-round draft pick and rode in on a golden chariot. We were told the smiles he brought the team were incredible. Smiles—you can’t put a price on that.
You don’t win Stanley Cups with skill...you win them with smiles.
Look, I’m not saying this is going to happen, but any level-headed GM would see this as very freeing. Pittsburgh would be able to move on from their “Crosby Experiment” and free up precious cap space to make a run at Artemi Panarin or Kevin Fiala. Fiala, after all, broke the Chicago Blackhawks...is it possible he can fix the broken Penguins?
New York, Old Problems
Before the virtual ink had dried on the virtual page, a new suitor entered into the P.K. Subban sweepstakes, as what appears to be a clickbait site threw the New York Rangers’ hat into the ring. Check out the article here...or just take my word for it.
The article reveals what many of us already know—the New York Rangers are just a few moves away from being a Cup contender.
Never mind that they found themselves 20 points from the final wild card spot this season. They are rebuilding, and surely the addition of P.K. Subban will fix all of their many problems. Isn’t rebuilding when you want to take on a 30-year-old All-Star still in the middle of a big contract, after all? What better time could there be to add such a player? The timing is perfect!
In order to not miss out on this opportunity, the team would part with some of their top producers, Kevin Shattenkirk and Neal Pionk...and maybe a draft pick or some AHL prospects. Obviously, this is not the deal the New York Rangers need. Sure, Subban would probably help the Rangers, but by giving up such precious pieces of their team in exchange, they actually stand to lose quite a bit of skill, talent, and scoring.
The combined -31 of the Pionk/Shattenkirk combo will be sorely missed in New York and Subban’s +5 doesn’t even begin to replace numbers with such a high absolute value. (The Rangers’ brass should remind David Poile that “absolute value” definitely means “value, but more emphatically.”)
No, the trade New York needs isn’t quite as obvious to most casual fans, but it jumps right out to me:
Trade Mika Zibanejad
I know what you’re thinking—there’s nothing Nashville can offer to make up for the absence that this would create—but since the original offer was for not just quality, but the highest quality players in Pionk and Shattenkirk, I feel the only fair offer is to send one of Nashville’s best:
Zac Rinaldo absolutely killed it (not killed anybody! just killed it in general!) in Nashville this year and I think he would bring a lot to the Rangers. Not only is he well-rested, but 100% of his goals were game winning goals. Compare that to Zibanejad’s paltry 17% (and that’s rounding up!) and it appears that not only is Rinaldo the guy to take you the rest of the way to the playoffs, but that Zibanejad was the proverbial albatross around your neck, keeping you from making it.
But Nashville surely doesn’t expect to only get such a small return from New York...remember that seventh-round draft pick they gave you for Cody McLeod? Well, now that he’s headed to Pittsburgh, we’ll need that back.