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Predators Spotlight: The One And Only

This blog has never hidden its affection for Pernell Karl Subban. It’s just a shame that the rest of the hockey world, specifically the one that considers itself so polite and understanding (and cold), wouldn’t follow suit. That’s ok though. PK Subban can probably make a bigger impact on the sport on this side of the 49th, and we certainly won’t ever make him apologize for who he is.

We’ll get to the off the ice stuff that the Predators have gotten in what is going to be an absolute steal of a trade, no matter how much the crusty hockey media is going full force today to show how well Shea Weber fits in with the Canadiens after one fucking game (though you won’t see anyone writing “because he’s white” which is really what they’re saying). First it’s important how much of an improvement the Preds are getting on the ice.

The Preds are getting one of the best five d-men on Earth, plain and simple. Subban has consistently clocked the opposition in terms of possession for at least the last four years. His CF%s are 57.3 (Norris Winner), 50.8, 52, and 51.0. Relative to his team those numbers are +5.4, +5.2, +5.2, and last year’s aberration of -0.3. Three out of four years, Subban was carrying the water far above his teammates, and that’s with dragging a bloated corpse named Andrei Markov around with him. In that same time, Shea Weber never carried possession above the team rate, and the past two years was negative 3% behind the rest of the Predators.

Now you may think that Weber took the heavier defensive responsibilities during that time and would have a tougher time flipping the ice because of it. This would be wrong. The past three years both Subban and Weber started between 30-35% of their shifts in the defensive zone, and last season it was the exact same 30%. They’ve also faced the exact same quality of competition, never seeing below 49% Corsi-For Competition or above 50%. And Weber was skating with Roman Josi. If you’re into xGF-competition, those numbers are exactly the same as well. Sure, there’s probably some difference between the best of the West that Weber was seeing and the best of the East that Subban was seeing, but surely that gap is eaten up by the difference in quality of partners.

And last year, when everyone lost their mud that Subban wasn’t scoring thanks to a career-low shooting percentage, he still put up the same 51 points that Weber did with his 20 goals. There just isn’t an argument here.

Off the ice, Subban is the exact type of star that will make Nashville pop on the hockey map. As JR Lind pointed out on our podcast, Nashville is a place that has no problem with rock stars acting like rock stars. That’s what Subban is. The NHL cannot find a more telegenic smile and personality, and yet continues to only put its thumb up its own ass in getting him out front of every marketing campaign they could possibly find. Here’s a player that gets it, which is rare for hockey players who have been told to conform from the minute they could stand up. Subban knows what sells and isn’t shy about saying and acting accordingly. And he backs it up on the ice. The man gave $10 million of his own money to a children’s hospital, but please keep putting Patrick Kane on the covers of magazines and your website. That helps everyone.

Montreal being too stupid to realize what they have is going to be the biggest gain for Nashville in their history. It’s clear that Music City has already fallen in love with him, and the first time he shoots an arrow after blasting off a goalie’s left ear the place is going to lose the roof. The NHL has a real chance to grab the momentum that PK and Nashville will be. But instead, you can look forward to five Caps-Rangers games on your national TV coverage. And don’t give me any bullshit about how Nashville is a small market. San Antonio didn’t stop Tony Parker and Tim Duncan from being household names, nor Oklahoma City keep down Durant and Westbrook. Real knows real.

Whatever, at least we know.