In the follow-up to our story regarding talks between the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks, some fans raised the topic of veteran defenceman PK Subban heading west, as in way west.
Most questions, if not all, deserve answers. It’s also worth taking a closer look at what else the Devils might have available and what the Vancouver Canucks might be interested in.
First of all, as we mentioned, goaltending and veteran leadership and physicality are what the Devils are prioritizing. Like the Canucks, they’d like to keep the core group in its mid-20’s.
Subban is 33-years-old and will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) next month. He’s coming off a contract that carried a $9-million annual cap hit over eight years, a deal he originally signed with the Montreal Canadiens back in 2014. Since then he’s been traded to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber in June of 2016 and then to New Jersey for two AHLer’s and two 2nd-round picks three summers later.
The Predators dumped the defenceman and his salary on New Jersey. The receiving GM, Ray Shero, was fired by the Devils seven months later.
Aside from the aforementioned priorities, current New Jersey GM Tom Fitzgerald would like to get 23-year-old restricted free agent (RFA) Jesper Bratt signed as soon as possible. He’s part of the high flying forward core.
25-year-old Pavel Zacha is also an RFA, but seems to be a commodity that could be had. The former 2015 first-rounder would bring mobility and depth to someone’s left wing position without breaking the bank. The Vancouver Canucks would have little interest in him as a left-shot center, his natural position.
Zacha could probably use a change of scenery. If Arizona is the NHL’s purgatory, New Jersey is its vacuum. Thank goodness for that giant fun zone across the river.
Subban’s production dipped dramatically in Newark over three seasons as the team struggled to put its pieces together and make the playoffs. The Devils have made the postseason once in the last decade, getting bounced in the first round in 2018.
Fitzgerald now has some guts to work with, Subban not being part of it. The Devils have Dougie Hamilton making $9-million a year for six more seasons on the left side.
So if and where would the Vancouver Canucks come in? It would be in free agency and it’s not bloody likely.
Pro’s to Subban: Right-shot. Skilled. Might be ultra motivated with a new look. Might be had at an extreme discount. The media would love him.
Con’s to Subban: Age-33, slowing down, brings a flamboyance and magnetism that can suck the oxygen out of a room, likely still too expensive. Goes against the team’s stated goal of youth = core.
As for trades, as it stands, the Devils 2nd-overall pick remains the most interesting commodity.