Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Habs by the numbers: Should the Montreal Canadiens Trade P.K. Subban?

Hi there Habs Addicts!

My name is Frank Dumais, and I recently joined the writing team.

I bring a different angle to the table, namely stats, and some of you might know me as @NHL_Stats, on Twitter.

This is my first piece entitled "Habs By the Numbers", and it will be weekly look at the Habs results and/or what's making Canadiens news this week. The twist? It's all done by looking at the stats.

I hope you'll enjoy reading me as much as I enjoy writing for you!

So, without further ado, let's delve right into what (or should I say who) has certainly been the talk of the town all week: No. 76, Mr. Pernell Karl Subban.

A GM on the move

With Habs GM, Pierre Gauthier's, extended visit to SoCal last week, the "insiders" had a royal feast. P.K. was going to be used as the "trade bait" in order to (finally!) get the ever so needed and desired big first line centerman.

My job here is not to inform you of the trade possibilities (what team, what player). I'll leave that to the real experts, and there are plenty of them right here on this fine blog.

What I will do, though, is explain through stats why it would be a catastrophe to trade "Monsieur Subban" away from the CH.

How does PK compare?

The first research I did was fairly simple, but yielded surprising results. I wanted a list, since the lockout (2005-06), of all defensemen 22 years old or younger (as of Feb 1), that had played at least 126 regular season games (that's how many games PK has played).

I took that list and sorted it by "Points per game".

Here's the actual output of the query:

As you can see, Dion Phaneuf is first on the list.

But P.K. is a nice surprise in the sixth spot, after Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers and Alex Pietrangelo. Now, some might say "PPG" is not the only characteristic to judge the quality of a defenseman. It might not even be the best one! But it shows P.K. among a group of elite d-men. And Subban is categorized as an "offensive" defenseman.

So to me, the analysis is interesting.

Also important to note, out of the top-6, including Subban, only one of the players has ever been traded: Phaneuf (after his 5th season at 24 years old). Also, if you look at Tyler Myers' numbers, you'll notice that he's been having very difficult second and third year.

What about the playoffs?

So now, I'll take this exercise one step further, and look at playoff numbers:

The results are even more surprising. This time P.K. comes up on top out of all d-men since 2005-06, 22 years old or younger, having played 21 or more playoffs game, sorted by PPG.

Subban has been more productive than players such as Kris Letang, Matt Carle, Jason Demers, Andrej Meszaros, Marc-Edouard Vlasic. P.K.'s playoff point production has actually exceeded that of Letang by 35%.

Not too shabby for a guy people want to trade!

Finally, if we look at Subban's usage compared to others, in terms of "time on ice", of the top-10 (in the "regular season" stats above), P.K. comes in at No. 5.

And in the playoffs?

He still comes up on top at No.1, with over 23 minutes of usage per game.

And some are now wondering if trading Subban for a No. 1 centerman is a good idea? The numbers speak for themselves and they show the Subban is right up there with some of the best in his class.

I, for one, don't think the young rear-guard should go anywhere.

Frank Dumais is a freelance writer, currently contributing to “Habs By the numbers” weekly column. He writes on current Habs topics, but with a “numbers twist”.

Follow Frank on Twitter

(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)


Frank I wrote a response yesterday regarding trading PK and what I said then and will say now that it would be stupid to trade this 22 year old kid who has nothing but an upside for the Canadiens. When I said that yesterday I had none of the numbers you have now presented . The team is already getting bigger up front with the trade of Cammelleri for Bourque, with the signing in the off season of Cole. With Patches coming back from the Chara hit healthy and Eller is starting use his size and skills also. Yes we need more up front but letting our best potential defensive asset go to get it makes absolutely no sense in this fans mind. I said this also when Carey came up to the team from Hamilton and didn't preform right away the way they the fans in Montreal wanted him too and they wanted him shipped out. At the beginning of his second year he told all Habs fans every where to chill and he as been on a steady climb ever since to becoming one the best goalies in the NHL. The same I believe will be found true of PK after all the Canadiens with all their injuries didn't exactly put him a enviable position. Yes he has made mistakes what 21year old at the time and now 22 hasn't made mistakes in the major leagues of hockey let this kid mature he will be wonderful for the Canadiens trading him will just repeat a mistake the Canadiens have made time and again in recent years.

Frank isn't saying trading P.K is stupid. He is just letting the numbers suggest its not that great of a notion ;)


I doubt many here will disagree with you. As Kamal often says, the ONLY way I would consider moving P.K is for an elite player, Getzlaf, Ryan, etc.

And even then, I say consider it. Nothing more.

Great stuff, Frank!

It's funny because you always "know" that Subban is a top defenseman, for his age, but to actually see the numbers is pretty impressive.

I think most are in agreement that, for a team that is rebuilding (and let's face it, that's what the Habs SHOULD be doing), trading a young, talented, cap friendly asset like Subban would be foolish.

They need to build around him, imo, not ship him out of town.


For the Habs to trade Subban, the offer would need to be nothing but huge. The only way trading him would make sense is if they'd get more back: cap friendly, super energetic and fully loaded with talent d-man. Why do it then? We have one!

With Markov's future blurry at best, the Habs can NOT afford the expense of losing this young man.

Championship teams are built from the back up. In Price, we have a stellar goalie. In Subban, Georges, Emelin, Diaz, Weber and soon Tinordi, Beaulieu, Nash ... the Habs are in a good position defensively.

@Louis @Kamal

Thanks a lot for you assistance and welcoming me, gents. Proud to have joined the ranks of this elite team of writers!

Should the Habs trade Subban......absolutely yes.

Assuming that they can get better. We've seen trade like the Sharks acquiring Thornton or when Johnson was dealt to ColORADO for Shattenkirk and Stewart.

There is absolutely no reason to trade the kid but if it is a can't miss deal then the Habs would be stupid not to.

Louis I wasn't saying that Frank said it would be stupid, I was simply stating that I thought it would be stupid to trade PK if anything the team should build around PK, Carey, Lars etc. We need to get back to Habs that were championship teams and won Stanley Cups those where the days my friend.


I agree with you that if the deal was that sweet, they would pull the trigger. But it would have to be really sweet!

As for the San Jose Sharks trades, do you remember them acquiring a certain Craig Rivet? ;0)

@Bryan: You're right. But, imo, that's a move you make when/if you feel it will put you over the top. The Johnson trade looks like it has worked out pretty damn well for the Blues so far.

And that was what they needed.

If the Habs go out and get, say, Eric Staal or Getzlaf, they'll be a better team but still not a contender.

I say hold off for now...

@Charles: Well said and you're bang on!

Look, to Bryan's point, if you are getting the deal of a lifetime then you have to consider it.

Otherwise, skip it...hold on to Subban, scrub the management team and get real managers and coaches in place who can mentor and develop P.K.

I have watched Subban for years, the antics and the giveaways will not get better.If the deal is right move him.Kamel make that list 28 teams because Carolina will not touch him,they have first hand info..We are hours away from the next big mistake.

@Fraz: It's true that, numbers aside, Subban comes with a big personality.


Bigger than Doughty, bigger than Chara, bigger than Myers and, really up there with Jeremy Roenick, Patrick Roy, Sean Avery, etc.

But I don't think that is something for the organization to run away from. Instead, they should embrace it but properly insulate Subban.

How about starting by hiring Larry Robinson as the defensive coach. Do you not think he could help guide Subban to success?

Many people are blaming Subban but, for me, I put the blame on the organization. They do NOT do a good job of insulating, mentoring and guiding their young players.

If you can't develop your youth in the salary cap world, you are dead in the water. Just look at players like Ribiero, Latendresse, Grabovski, Kostitsyn (to name just a few).

All of this points to problems in the organization and not necessarily just with the player.

Frank survey the same players on fighting with team mates, coaches,spitting,turnovers....


I, just like you and most around here, will agree that PK definitly comes across as a player with an attitude. Sometimes good, often not. But some call it attitude, I chose to call it character. Were some of "cocky" at 22? Hell, I was!

I also believe that was PK needs is a mentor, what Markov should have been, that Gill was for a while. PK will mature.


You must be a Leaf fan with your ridiculous comments. Do you not remember a fellow named Chelios; who was very brash and hard to handle and then we traded him away. Then he goes on to be one of the best defencemen in the league. Our loss again. There is no way we should even consider trading him. Like Kamal said Montreal needs to mentor him and insulate him from the crappy press in Montreal


The Chelios point is actually a very good one. Everyone will remember his, shall we say, behavioural challenges?

Well please consider that Chelios did not play a full season in the NHL until he was 23 years of age! PK has 2 full seasons and is not even 23 yet.

huge hab fan, i watched this guy in Belleville for years,the Bull s@#t that goes along with him,on and off the ice. he only 16,17 18 19 20 21 22 and next year it will be he is only 23.He never met a camera or a microphone he did not like. I damn near cried the day the habs drafted him

A great analysis. Montreal would be making a big mistake moving him at this point, but I'm sure there are plenty of teams who would love to have him.

@ Fraz

He is a kid and yes he was a kid before that. There are lots of kids who have issues for years and then just one day they get it.

In the NHL look at the actions of Mario Lemieux. The guy was an absolutely ass and then one day he matured.
People were knocking Carey price for this very same thing and now he is one of the leaders of the team.

The problem with PK is that he doesn't fit the "norm" of the NHL. He doesn't give the PC answer which every other player gives. He is cocky, he has swag.....whats wrong with that? He is the best Dman on the team at 23 and has been rushed into a position that he shouldn't be in.

People just need to chill and surround this kid with top NHL d-men and allow PK to just develop and evolve as he should.

I think they should trade him to the leafs for phaneuf.

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