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Subban, Music City a perfect fit

All-Star defenseman just what Predators, Nashville needed

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Picture this: P.K. Subban styling in a cowboy hat, leather boots, a preppy bow tie or a bolo tie, and a belt buckle the size of his personality, strutting down Broadway, past the bars with live music blaring through the open doors, on his way to Bridgestone Arena for a home game.

Get ready for it, Nashville. Subban is coming to you. He's one of you now.

Subban became a member of the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, traded from the Montreal Canadiens in what will likely be the NHL's summer blockbuster for defenseman Shea Weber.

It's huge for the Predators.

Four years ago, when he chose to match the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet Weber had signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, Predators general manager David Poile called it the "most important hockey transaction in franchise history."

Now it's No. 2.

Subban instantly becomes the most important player in Predators history. His charisma, his charm, his style, it will all blend so well in Nashville, a vibrant, growing, destination city that loves and embraces its stars.

Video: Reaction to the Subban/Weber trade

Subban is a star, a big one, the biggest the Predators have ever had in terms of notoriety and crossover appeal. The timing is right for him to come to Nashville.

The city and its hockey team put on a phenomenal show when the NHL came for its All-Star Weekend in January. It arguably was the best All-Star Weekend ever, with a concert series and country music stars everywhere.

The Predators reached the Western Conference Second Round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time this season. They've averaged 100 points in each of their first two seasons under coach Peter Laviolette. They're ready to win. Their players are buying in too.

Nashville re-signed forward Filip Forsberg to a six-year, $36 million contract Monday. Defenseman Roman Josi is signed for four more seasons, and forward James Neal for two more. Center Ryan Johansen needs to get signed to a contract extension soon and he has a lot of reasons now to want to be a big part of what's happening in Nashville now.

The Predators are on the rise, and Subban is the star they needed. He's a must-see attraction who was never fully embraced in Montreal by coach Michel Therrien or general manager Marc Bergevin. They will regret it even if Weber does in Montreal what he did in Nashville.

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

This is not to make light of anything Weber did with the Predators. By all accounts, he was a model citizen who led by his actions and performed at a high level on the ice.

Weber shouldn't be knocked for being more reserved than Subban, especially when you can say the same about just about everybody in the NHL. He came back to Nashville after signing an offer sheet with the Flyers and helped the Predators become a contender again. That shouldn't be forgotten.

Weber will fit in in Montreal, and there's no reason he won't be able to perform the way he did in Nashville, where he seemingly was always in consideration for the Norris Trophy even though he never won it.

But Subban, who did win the Norris Trophy three years ago, comes in hot to Nashville and the market is ready for a hockey star with his personality.

The Predators will embrace Subban and he in turn will embrace his new market, just as he did Montreal. He will find the culture and the style and he will become part of it. He will find charities to support, like he did with Montreal Children's Hospital, where he recently pledged a $10 million donation over seven years.

It took Subban all of about 20 minutes after the trade was announced to change his Twitter handle to represent his new team. It now reads, "The official Twitter account of P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators."

Most importantly, Subban will perform on the ice for the Predators.

Tweet from @PKSubban1: Montreal, thank you for the incredible support!!!! @PredsNHL I'm excited about the next chapter. Howdyyy, Let's go!

What Nashville loses in Weber, it more than makes up for in Subban, who is one of the few players in the League with a shot that rivals Weber's.

Subban is nearly four years younger than Weber, who will be 31 before next season begins.

Weber has scored more than Subban, but the Predators have relied on him for goals far more than the Canadiens have on Subban. But if you look at the totality of their offense in the past two seasons, Subban actually comes out slightly ahead.

Subban had 21 goals and 111 points in 150 games (0.74 points per game). Weber had 35 goals and 96 points in 156 games (0.62 points per game).

Subban also has a more favorable contract, even though it's more expensive. He has six years remaining on his contract with a salary-cap charge of $9 million and a total of $58 million still coming to him through the 2021-22 season.

Weber's cap charge is less than Subban's at $7.857 million and he's owed $54 million, but that is to be paid out over 10 more seasons. He has already been paid $56 million in the first four years of his contract.

Weber's contract is one of the last signed before the new collective bargaining agreement. His salary drops significantly at the end and he is paid $6 million over the final four seasons.

There's a hook to taking on this contract, and it's one that maybe should have scared the Canadiens away. By taking on Weber's contract, Montreal could be subjected to potential penalties on their future salary cap under the cap-recapture rules in the CBA if Weber retires before the expiration of his contract. The Predators also face a similar risk.

Weber did well in Nashville and held his end of the bargain after the Predators matched the offer sheet. But Subban is a bona fide star, the kind of player who attracts attention in public, brings people into the building, and has the ability to make them leap out of their seats.

Get ready for it Nashville. He's yours now. Embrace him.

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