Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Yesterday marked the 4th anniversary of the two biggest deals in the last 10 years, and they happened to happen just minutes apart. Yes, the Oilers sent former 1st overall pick, Taylor Hall, to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson, and the Montreal Canadiens sent from Norris trophy winner, P.K. Subban, to Nashville for Shea Weber. All this happened in a span of 20 minutes! So 4 years who made out best? Let's dig in.
Larsson for Hall - 3:34PM
Nobody would've thought the Oilers would trade away one of their young talented forwards in Taylor Hall. Young Hall went 1st overall in the 2010 draft ahead of Tyler Seguin, and despite the team being a mess, he still managed three decent seasons in Edmonton. That changed in 2013-14 where Hall popped off with 80 points in 75 games. It was his career high in Edmonton, but the Oilers were still at the bottom of the standings.
Over the course of the next 3 seasons the Oilers drafted 7th (Nurse), 3rd (Draisaitl), 1st overall in the McDavid draft, and 4th the in 2016 (Puljujarvi). Hall himself was okay during that stretch but many looked at McDavid as a generational player, and the prospect of them teaming up had Oiler fans excited for the foreseeable future. This is when Mr. Adam Larsson comes in to play.
You see, the Oilers had the 1st overall pick 4 times in 2010s, drafting the likes of Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Yakupov. To put it mildly, their defence had been ignored and their young stars weren’t progressing, so management made a desperation move.
At 3:34pm, the Oilers traded Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson. Now, Larsson was a good defenceman. The Devils selected him 4th overall in 2011, he was solid on the defensive end but, that was really the only way to describe him. A solid defenceman. He could be physical at times and solid puck handling skills. Not bad, but not great.
On paper this solved problems for both sides. The Devil's needed scoring, and the Oilers needed defence. The only problem is that the Devils absolutely fleeced Edmonton! Four years later and it's still easy to tell New Jersey won the deal in a landslide! In his second season in New Jersey Hall would guide the Devils to the playoffs, winning the Hart trophy in the process racking up 93 points, his career high.
Although Larsson has played a vital role in Edmonton’s penalty kill this season (which is ranked second best in the league this season), the Oilers are very much a middle of the road team despite the talent it possesses. For a talent like Taylor Hall, the Oilers should have brought in more pieces. Even though Hall was in Jersey for just over 3 seasons, he made a big impact and helped the Devils clinch a postseason berth before the Oilers did.
Subban for Weber - 3:54PM
Just 20 minutes after the Hall - Larsson trade, the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators decided they wanted to join the party. The Canadiens traded away fan favourite P.K. Subban for longtime Preds captain Shea Weber. The Habs drafted Subban back in 2008, and the 2nd rounder a bit of a different path to the NHL. After 4 years with Bellville and 2 World Junior gold medals, P.K. found himself flourishing down in the AHL, finishing third in team scoring and had a massive plus 46 rating. Subban looked ready for the NHL.
He quickly became one of the franchise's cornerstone players, even capturing a Norris trophy in a shortened season. Despite that, Subban’s brash personality and playing style brought detractors. Pundits didn’t look at Subban as a leader, which is why he probably never got the C in Montreal. Amidst all of the Habs rewarded Subban an eight year, 72 million dollar deal in 2014, yet two years later he was shipped to Nashville.
Weber also had a very similar path. Four years in Kelowna, he was part of the greatest World Junior team ever assembled, and also spent a bit of time in the AHL before making the leap to the bigs. However, unlike Subban, Weber’s poise was praised and he served as the longest serving captain in Nashville's history. Weber never got a Norris trophy but came close in 2010 and 2011, finishing second in both years, and has finished in the top 10 in voting 9 straight years.
Subban was 27 and Weber was 30 at the time, both also had massive contacts. Habs GM Marc Bergevin was the most hated guy in Montreal, but surprisingly Montreal look to be the winners of the deal. Even though the Preds made a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016-17, they ultimately traded Subban away in what looked like a salary dump. Meanwhile Weber is now the Habs captain and is thriving in that role.
Subban is on the downside of his career and the Devils haven’t had the season they’d hoped for. Montreal barely missed the playoffs last year and will get a crack at the Stanley Cup this year, if the seasons resume. Weber looks to fit comfortably in Montreal, but unfortunately you can't say the same for Subban in New Jersey. It's a toss up, but I'm giving the Canadiens the edge in this deal for now at the moment.
While the NHL offseason is normally pretty quiet, long and boring. These two deals turned the NHL upside down and has given the media something to pick apart for years to come. It’s still quite unbelievable that these trades happened just minutes apart.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Stamkos signed a $68 million dollar extension just 3 minutes after the Subban - Weber trade. What a crazy day....