NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Montreal Canadiens.
The Montreal Canadiens came up with a shocking way to turn the page on one of the most disappointing seasons in their history when general manager Marc Bergevin traded 2013 Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban for Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber.
It's hard to imagine another market where a GM would have to justify the acquisition of Weber, a perennial all-star defenseman who has scored 58 goals over the past three seasons.
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And yet that is exactly the position Bergevin finds himself in after trading Subban less than two years after signing him to an eight-year, $72 million contract. Bergevin wasted no time justifying his decision in his press conference announcing the trade on June 29, calling it "one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make as a general manager."
"It was a unique opportunity that was presented to us," Bergevin said. "Shea is a tremendous leader, a proven player, he led all NHL defensemen with 14 power-play goals last season. He's a complete and reliable defenseman with great size and a powerful shot. Shea will definitely improve our power play. P.K. is a special individual and a very talented player. He provided the Canadiens organization with outstanding performances on the ice and was a generous contributor to our community. I wish him the best with Nashville.
"We always listen to offers from other teams if it's going to improve our club. Today, we were presented with a unique opportunity to improve our team, and I truly believe we took a step in the right direction."
The fallout from the Weber-Subban trade overshadowed the other significant moves Bergevin made, including the acquisition of forward Andrew Shaw in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, and the free agent signings of goalie Al Montoya and Russian forward Alexander Radulov.
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A former teammate of Weber in Nashville, Radulov last played in the League in 2011-12, when he had three goals and seven points in nine games with the Predators. He had one goal and six points in eight games in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he was suspended by the Predators for breaking curfew.
Radulov spent the past four seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League. He had 23 goals and 65 points in 53 games last season to help CSKA Moscow advance to the Gagarin Cup final.
Weber and CSKA GM Sergei Federov vouched for Radulov when Bergevin consulted with them prior to signing him to a one-year contract worth a reported $5.75 million on July 1.
"My scouts, we watched him a lot this year, he's one of the hardest-working kids, so we're taking a risk but hopefully the reward is big," Bergevin said.
The return of goalie Carey Price is expected to provide the Canadiens their biggest boost. Price was injured twice and missed most of last season -- he was 10-2-0 with a 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentate in 12 starts -- after winning the Hart and Vezina trophies in 2014-15. He was shut down for the season after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on Nov. 25.
Rookie Mike Condon shouldered the bulk of the goaltending in Price's absence and performed admirably, but he will have to battle Montoya for the backup role.
A return to full health by defenseman Jeff Petry, who had season-ending sports hernia surgery in March, and right wing Brendan Gallagher also should provide a boost, as will the addition of Shaw. A two-time Stanley Cup champion with Chicago, Shaw signed a six-year contract worth a reported $23.4 million with Montreal on June 27, three days after he was acquired from the Blackhawks for two second-round picks in the 2016 NHL Draft.
"I don't have to play against Shea Weber anymore, so that's a huge positive," Shaw said during a visit of the Canadiens practice facility on July 6. "We've had some good battles in front of the net, he actually broke one of my ribs, so I know he's a tough defenseman and he's going to be great for us. He's going to be that wall that stands in front of Carey and he's got that bomb from the point as well."