The National Hockey League has seen its share of crazy trades and signings. The NHL Trade Deadline and its annual Free Agency Frenzy are almost guaranteed to provide such exciting transactions. And there was no time like 2016. The entire hockey world waited with baited breath to see where megastar Steven Stamkos decided to take his talents. Trade winds were blowing a plenty, especially through Edmonton. The Oilers were entertaining offers on former first overall pick Nail Yakupov, and were desperately looking for an upgrade on their blueline. It seemed as if July 1st was going to be absolutely massive.
And then this happened
This move, on its own, shook the league and took it by surprise. However, the shocking news wasn’t done. The Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators saw this news, and as a smirk spread across their respective faces, announced a one for one trade that involved two big ticket defencemen at the time. The Predators acquired P.K. Subban from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Shea Weber. Subban was an incredibly controversial player in Montreal due to issues surrounding selfish tendencies on the ice and partying off of it. However, there might not have been a more exciting defenceman in the game at the time. And Weber was a stalwart on the Nashville blueline for years, in addition to being their captain.
But perhaps the biggest move was the one involving Stamkos, as he decided to remain with the Tampa Bay Lightning on an eight year contract with an annual average value of $8.5M.
Now, four years later, let’s examine just how these moves panned out for everyone involved, and relive the craziness that decended upon the hockey community on June 29th, 2016.
Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson
This move caught a lot of people of guard for a lot of reasons. Taylor Hall, another former Oilers 1st overall pick, was a proven goal scorer. In 381 games as an Edmonton Oiler, Hall scored 132 goals and 328 points. He reached scored 20 or more goals four times in those six seasons, potting 27 on two separate occasions. He was one of, if not the most productive players in Edmonton at the time. Trading Hall at all was a bit of a shock to the system. However, the return package was an even bigger shock.
The Oilers traded Hall straight up for defenceman Adam Larsson. The acquisition of Larsson, on paper, wasn’t a bad pickup. As previously established, the Oilers were desperate for help on the blueline. And Larsson was just coming off his age 23 season, while playing a full 82 games. He had room to grow a bit of a more offensive side (he had a nice 69 points in 274 games), so the problem wasn’t Larsson himself. The big backlash around this trade was the lack of other assets the Oilers didn’t receive from the New Jersey Devils. It didn’t seem to be enough at the time, and it turned out afterwards that it wasn’t nearly enough.
Hall posted another 20 goal season his first year with the Devils, but his second year with the team was by far his best. Hall posted career highs in goals (39), assists (54), and points (93) as Hall made his first All Star appearance and won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player. The Devils made the postseason that year, which saw the then 26 year old winger put up six points in five games as the team fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning. An injury put Hall on the shelf for the 2018-19 season after just 33 games, but Hall was a point per game, having posted 37 points in those games. The Devils slowed down, and after another poor start in this past season, the Devils traded Hall to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forwards Nate Schnarr and Nicholas Merkely, defenceman Kevin Bahl, a 2020 first round pick, and a conditional 2021 3rd round pick.
The Oilers, meanwhile, have received some decent production from Adam Larsson, but nothing compared to Hall’s MVP season. Larsson posted three consecutive double digit point seasons with the Oilers, the highest point total being 20 points in 2018-19. Larsson also recorded the highest +/- rating of his career in 2017-18 with a +21. However, Larsson was a -28 in that 2018-19 season. And I know that +/- is not the greatest stat, but is at least somewhat indicative of a player’s performance. Larsson by far had the worst +/- rating on the Oilers that season, with the next lowest ratings being forwards Jesse Puljujarvi and Kyle Brodziak with a -14. Edmonton made the playoffs this season unofficially, but lost to the 12th seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifying round. Larsson, to his credit, still has a role with the Edmonton Oilers.
It is also worth pointing out that both players carved out leadership roles with their respective teams, as both players wore the A as alternate captains.
P.K. Subban for Shea Weber
P.K Subban was drafted in the second round by the Montreal Canadiens in 2007. Shea Weber was also a second round pick, as the Predators took him in 2003. Both finished in the top 3 for Norris Trophy voting previously, with Subban actually winning the award in 2012-13. Both defencemen had put up a ton of points with their respective teams. In 763 games in Nashville, Weber scored 166 goals and 443 points. Subban had scored 63 goals and 278 points in 434 games with Montreal. There were similarities between the two franchise cornerstone blueliners before this deal occured. This deal, however, was still a massive eye opener for both fanbases.
While he had been an elite defenceman in the past, Weber was 31 years of age and entering year five of a 14 year, $110M contract he signed back in 2012. He carries a $7.857M cap hit and, as of this writing, has another six years left on the deal. He is signed through his age 42 season, and needless to say, this was a massive risk to take on. The fact that this was a straight, one for one deal, speaks to a bit of an underlying desire to move on from Subban that Marc Bergevin will never publicly admit to.
Subban’s first year in Nashville was absolutely fun to watch, as a non-Predators fan. Their run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals was the stuff of legend, and his 12 points in 22 games from the point were a major catalyst. However, Subban’s Predators fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won became the first team to win back to back Stanley Cups since the 1997/98 Detroit Red Wings. After this Cup Finals appearance, Subban’s Predators would suffer early playoff exits in 2017-18 and 2018-19. After the 2018-19 season, the Predators traded Subban to the New Jersey Devils in exchange defencemen Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies as well as two second round draft picks. Subban finished his time in Nashville with 130 points in 211 regular season games played, as well as 24 points in 41 playoff games.
Shea Weber has had a mostly productive tenure in Montreal. He helped the Habs to an Atlantic Division championship in his first season with the team, although they would be bounced by the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Injuries limited Weber to just 26 games in 2017-18, but he bounced back to play 58 and 65 games the next two years respectively. The Habs nearly made the playoffs in 2018-19, and despite my personal feelings about them, they did make it in 2019-20. Weber is still with the Canadiens, and currently serves as their captain. So far, Weber has played in 227 regular season games with Montreal, scoring 52 goals and 127 points. In 16 playoff games, Weber as scored eight points.
Steven Stamkos Stays In Tampa
Steven Stamkos was one of the premier players in the entire NHL as he was set to enter free agency on July 1, 2016. Stamkos was the first overall selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and in his rookie season he scored 23 goals and 46 points in 79 games played. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, the New York Rangers almost traded for Stamkos in 2010. Former Rangers general manager Glen Sather said he had a handshake deal with then Tampa co owner Leon Barrie that would send Stamkos to Broadway in exchange for Tampa’s pick of two players from the following group: Michael Del Zotto, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi and Evegny Grachev. The rest of the Lightning ownership group stepped in to nix the deal, and the rest is history.
Stamkos, who was named captain after the 2014 Martin St. Louis trade, helped lead the Lightning to the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals with 18 points in 25 playoff games. He missed much of Tampa’s run to the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals due to complications from blood clots. During that offseason, Stamkos was an incredibly hot commodity. Reports indicated that he would be heavily pursued by the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs in addition to the Lightning. And it wasn’t hard to see why. Stamkos was nearly a point per game player at the time, having scored 312 goals and 562 points in 569 games. However Stamkos struck a deal with Tampa after meeting with only the Toronto Maple Leafs.
At first, Stamkos’ return to Tampa seemed bleak. He only played in 17 games during the 2016-17 season, and while he did pot 20 points during that span, the complications from those blood clots remained a question mark. However, he quickly bounced back, putting up 86 and 98 points in the next two seasons. Overall, Stamkos has scored 110 goals and 270 points in 234 games after signing his eight year extension. He, along with an incredibly dynamic season from Nikita Kucherov, helped the Lightning tie the 1995/96 Detroit Red Wings record with 62 regular season wins. However, the Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs. Stamkos scored two points in those four games.
Stamkos, at the time of this writing, has been out of the Lightning lineup due to a lower body injury, but has not been ruled out for a return in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Featured Photo Credit: Dirk Shadd /Tampa Bay Times