Every eyes are set upon P.K. Subban reaching the Cup final while the Montreal Canadien have been booted off in the very first round. Of course, it's natural to look at the biggest trade made during the last few years and try to make sense of it. Shea Weber was a huge part of the Predators and he's missing the deepest run the team ever had because of that trade.
However, a second trade was made that has deep impact for the Cup final, namely the moment when James Neal was traded to the Preds in exchange for Patric Hornqvist who went to Pittsburgh. Sure, the trade is almost 3 years old now and water flowed under the bridges since then. However, in a particular twist of events, both teams are now facing each other in the final.
It provides extra motivation for Neal, that's for sure.
“Any time you get traded from a team and you move on to the next, you always want to play great against your old team," Neal said Friday. "It’d be the same for any guy that got traded. It gives you a little extra motivation, I’d say."
What about Hornqvist? The trade left many scratching their heads back in 2014, but Jim Rutherford made the move with a clear intent in mind.
“We were looking to get a different type of player,” Rutherford said. "We were looking for that type of passionate player, good team guy, good in the locker room. ... I've never met a player like (Hornqvist). He's never had a bad day."
These are some serious compliments to the small and highly energetic forward. He was the happiest guy around moving to the Pens, with all the offensive skills being present there at the time (and still today).
“I never had any of those centers before in my life. It made me raise my level. ... It was obviously a challenge for me, but you want to be that guy who can play with those kind of guys and get that opportunity. When I got that chance, I made sure I took it.”
Both guys will try to impress their former teams for sure. Hornqvist was sidelined for a few games due to an upper-body injury, but he's expected to rejoin the lineup for game 1.