Let's play a game, shall we?
Imagine, if you will, that you are the general manager of a very good hockey team in the NHL. Your hockey team does a whole lot of things right (most nights anyway), but there's still that question mark about your defense. After all, a 25-minute-a-night, all-situations defenseman would make any team look better, but yours especially with some of the inexperience and lack of size you've got back there.
Let's also imagine you have young assets and scoring for days, things that a struggling team with a possible lame-duck coach would be very interested in. You have a fairly favorable salary cap situation. And you have the type of team that is attractive to players even with no-trade and no-movement clauses.
Yes, it's a pretty ridiculous pipe dream and it appears right now that the Canadiens are more feeling things out than actively shopping their best non-goalie player. But if, and that's a big if, Subban is suddenly in play, you'd have to feel like the Dallas Stars and general manager Jim Nill would be all over that.
Subban has a very sizeable $9 million cap hit, but the 26-year-old right shot defenseman does exactly everything the Stars would dream about on their blue line. He plays the power play, penalty kill and so many even strength minutes. He gets ever-so-slightly sheltered zone starts (though not as bad as, say, Aaron Ekblad last season), but he's been a consistently positive possession player for the last four years.
He's everything a general manager dreams of, and of all the teams out there, the Stars just might have the assets and moxie to go after him.
A player like Subban, the type of defenseman that you dream about every night, let alone doesn't grow on trees, brings all sorts of extra assets into play that you might rather hold on to in the interim. A player like Valeri Nichushkin, for example, or even Mattias Janmark, and defensive prospects like Esa Lindell and Julius Honka are very large starting pieces that can't be bandied about for just anyone, but for a player like Subban, you'd think they could be reasonably in the discussion.
And Jim Nill does not shy away from giving up solid assets in trades for very talented pieces. We've seen it every summer since he's been in Dallas, moving Loui Eriksson (and others) for Tyler Seguin, Alex Chiasson and company for Jason Spezza and Trevor Daley (who is playing well in Pittsburgh after playing well and taking on the role of whipping boy in Chicago) for Patrick Sharp.
There's always a fear about potentially giving up the best piece in a deal when you get lots of moving parts, but there are certain types of players you risk it for, and Subban, should he actually be on the market, is absolutely one of those.
And yes, there are salary cap implications out the wazoo if the Stars wanted to make this move or any other for a big-money player, but they are in the situation where that is still manageable, albeit with some likely sacrifices of some defensemen or half of the two-headed goalie monster in the summer. But then, of course, you'd have Subban as a replacement.
Subban isn't the problem with the Canadiens this year, but he has become his coaching staff's scapegoat, at least in recent weeks. His risk-heavy style of play doesn't sit well with a team usually held together by him and Carey Price that is missing, well, Carey Price.
Look, these rumors could just be a rival GM deciding to have a laugh at the Habs expense. They could be the very perfunctory "Look, if you'll offer us Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as a package, of course we'd do it" discussions.
But it is the silly season for a reason. And the Dallas Stars love making other teams look silly in trades.