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Fantasy: Sky is limit for Subban with Predators

Multicategory asset could challenge Karlsson, Burns for top defenseman

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Defenseman P.K. Subban is a big enough deal to shake up the entire fantasy hockey landscape.

The Nashville Predators acquired the top-tier defenseman from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for defenseman Shea Weber on Wednesday, sparking a potential change at the top of the positional rankings and near the top of the overall list.

Subban, 27, is arguably the most valuable multicategory asset among defensemen in the past four seasons. Among players with defenseman eligibility in Yahoo leagues, he has the most power-play points (94) since 2012-13 and ranks in the top 10 in goals (42, ninth), assists (160, second), penalty minutes (287, eighth) and shots on goal (676, eighth). He's tied for 28th with a combined plus-33.

That covers each of the six standard Yahoo categories to a notable degree, and Subban now joins an even better first power-play unit than the one he excelled with in Montreal.

Video: E.J. Hradek breaks down Subban for Weber trade

The Canadiens converted on 17.2 percent of their power-play opportunities in the past four seasons, tied for 23rd in the NHL. This season, they scored on 16.2 percent (25th). The Predators, with defensemen Roman Josi and Weber running their power play, had a 19.7 percent conversion rate that ranked 10th in the NHL this season, and the Josi-Weber duo was the League's best defensemen power-play point pair (17 goals with each recording a point).

Nashville has two of the League's best young forwards -- Filip Forsberg, 21, and Ryan Johansen, 23 -- along with resurgent goal-scorer James Neal (31 in 2015-16). The Predators reached the Western Conference Second Round and took the eventual conference champion San Jose Sharks to seven games.

Given the magnitude of the Subban trade and its potential impact on the roster, even bigger things could be in store for the Predators in 2016-17.

Subban finished 51st overall, eighth among defensemen, in Yahoo's performance-based rankings this season despite missing the final month of the season with an injury. He was ranked fourth among defensemen in NHL.com's rankings before this trade.

Suddenly, the top spot among defensemen and a top-five overall fantasy rank are up for debate.

Video: Reaction to the Subban/Weber trade

Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins led the most recent fantasy defensemen rankings because of their point production and strong category coverage. Karlsson and Burns finished tied for fourth (82 points in 82 games) and 11th (75 points in 82 games) in League scoring, respectively, to emerge as top-10 overall fantasy assets. Burns had one of the heaviest shot volumes (353) by a defenseman of all-time. Letang wasn't far behind, covering all six categories in steady fashion with a dominant second half under coach Mike Sullivan.

But if we're talking about a fantasy ceiling and the unknown factor, Subban joining a far better team with a track record of unmatched category coverage in recent seasons makes him the most intriguing option of any defenseman on the board. Karlsson may be the safer pick in terms of scoring, but Subban is capable of a 70-point season with 30 or more power-play points, 100 or more PIMs, 200 or more SOG, and a rating similar to his 2014-15 season with Montreal (plus-21).

A season of that caliber would raise the bar even higher than Karlsson and Burns did this season. Right now, four defensemen should be taken in the top 15 overall. Last season, only Karlsson (Yahoo average draft position: 14.4) made that cut.

Video: SJS@NSH, Gm3: Weber beats Jones with a huge one-timer

Weber is trending down following the trade, especially considering he has been outperformed offensively by Josi in the past two seasons. Weber will, without a doubt, miss Josi, who has 116 points in his past 162 games. Weber has 96 points in 156 games. Their power-play totals were similar (Weber: 41 PPP; Josi: 39) in the span, largely because of their familiarity playing together in all situations.

Subban and Josi, two of the most active puck-moving defensemen in the game, are about to unite and can elevate Nashville into a true Stanley Cup contender. Weber, a more physical, shot-blocking defenseman than Subban, turns 31 years old Aug. 14 and is nearing the end of his prime years.

Montreal's best forward, left wing Max Pacioretty, has never had more than 17 power-play points in a season, alarming considering he has at least 30 goals and 60 points in each of the past four full seasons. The downgrade in power-play talent around him poses a serious threat to the bread and butter of Weber's fantasy profile. The stock of all-world goalie Carey Price, who's coming off an injury-ravaged season, is also in question.

Weber remains a borderline top-20 fantasy defenseman, but his value takes a sizable hit from this trade because Montreal has nowhere near the offensive weapons of Nashville.

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