Thursday, 30 June 2016
The Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators swapped a pair of Olympic gold medal winning defensemen on Wednesday in one of the biggest NHL trades in recent history.
The Canadiens acquired Shea Weber from the Predators for PK Subban in an exchange of all-star defensemen who helped Canada beat Sweden for gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Subban won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in the NHL in 2013 and Weber is considered the best active defenseman in the league to have never won a Norris.
The 30-year-old Weber had spent the past 11 seasons with the Predators and has played in four All-Star Games.
Weber said he was spending time with his family in Kelowna, British Columbia when he realized he had been traded after getting a text from Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
“It was a hectic morning,” Weber said. “I was a little emotional this morning.
“I spent a lot of time in Nashville and enjoyed my time there but the more I look at it now I am excited to join a franchise with a rich history and go there and be part of something special.”
Weber is no stranger to some of the players in the Canadiens’ dressing room. He and Price were teammates on the Olympic team with Subban. Weber and Drew Doughty were Canada’s top two defensemen in Sochi while the younger Subban, 27, saw limited ice team as an extra defenseman.
“He came there with a good attitude,” Weber said of Subban. “He didn’t play as much as he thought he would, but what he did helped the team win. It all worked out in the end.”
Weber had 20 goals and 31 assists in 78 regular-season games this past season.
Weber has scored 40 or more points eight times and he finished with three goals and four assists in the playoffs this past year.
The 14 playoff games he appeared in is the most Weber has played in one season in his career.
– Slap shot king –
Weber is the two-time defending champion of the All-Star Game’s Hardest Shot competition which allows him to lay claim to the fastest slap shot in the NHL.
In 2015, he won the title with a shot clocked at 108.5 mph (174 kmh). Former Chicago Blackhawk Bobby Hull has the all time record of 118 mph.
Most hockey experts believe Subban is just heading into the prime of his career. Some suggest that Predators were willing to trade their captain because they believe he might be entering the tail end of his.
But Weber believes his off-ice training routine will allow him to continue to be on of the NHL’s top five defensemen into his 30s.
“I am hoping that shouldn’t be an issue,” Weber said. “I do a lot of work over the summer to be in good shape for the season.
“I am going to work just as hard, if not harder, to make sure I am ready to go.”
Subban finished with six goals and 45 assists this past season.
Subban is heading into the third season of his eight-year $72-million contract.
“Right now I am going to a team that wants me,” Subban said.
The Edmonton Oilers also made a big trade Wednesday sending former first overall draft pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Adam Larsson, who was the fourth overall pick four years ago.
Source by: AFP