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Blockbuster at the Draft: New Jersey Devils Traded a Package for P.K. Subban

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Before Day 2 of the 2019 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils made a blockbuster trade. They acquired star defenseman P.K. Subban for a package of Steve Santini, Jeremy Davies, a 2019 second rounder, and a 2020 second rounder. This post is an initial reaction and analysis of the trade.

2019 NHL Awards
P.K. Subban: Defenseman, star, Face of the League, and now - a Devil
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Last night, I called Jack Hughes, The Big Deal. Before Round 2 began at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero made one. The blockbuster deal brings defenseman, star, and the Face of the League P.K. Subban to the Rock. Here is the full deal, as reported by Bob McKenzie [Davis is Davies]:

I am very happy with this deal. Ray Shero turned a right-handed defenseman who was on the outside of the lineup in Steve Santini, a prospective right-handed defenseman in Jeremy Davies, and two second round picks forright-handed defenseman P.K. Subban. The picks are not conditional. The picks are not in the first round. They’re not even from this year. Only 34th overall and whatever it will be next year, which we all hope will be much, much lower than 34th overall.

This is not all perfection. The 34th overall pick could have yielded a first round-level talent. Plus, Subban did not have a great 2018-19. His production of 31 points was his lowest since 2013, a lockout-shortened season. According to Natural Stat Trick, his xGA/60 (expected goals against per 60) was 2.41, which was one of the higher values on Nashville last season. The GAR model at Evolving-Hockey hated his performances and calculated him as being sub-replacement level. (Mostly due to shorthanded situations, but I’m not going to rant about the model’s goofiness here.) All this for someone who is 30 years old and set to make $10 million in salary would give someone pause.

But I do not see it that way. I will agree that Subban’s 2018-19 was not good. (Although that 2.41 xGA/60 would have tied him with Zajac last season, which still isn’t great but it gives you an idea of what Subban will improve upon.) That is not up for debate. I am confident that he will bounce back from that season. He has had multiple seasons where he was legitimately one of the best defensemen in the NHL as late as 2017-18. He is not a player who is going hit a massive decline. He does not have, to my immediate knowledge, a chronic injury issue that will undercut what he could contribute. He is a force from the back; a true #1 defenseman. This is someone who can take all the big minutes Andy Greene takes; the captain does not have to shoulder the load. The Devils gave up a little bit of their future for a guy who can be one of the league’s best right now. As much as I was looking forward to the 34th overall pick this year since it could have given the Devils a first-round level talent and as much hope I had for Davies for being a seventh-round diamond in the rough, they do not compare to what Subban can do in the next three seasons. Yes, Subban has three seasons left on his deal so when Jack Hughes’ ELC will end, Subban’s $9 million cap hit will be coming off the books. This is quite a bit of a return for a fringe NHLer in Santini, a hopeful NHLer in Davies, and two second round picks. It’s the kind of trade I think I would make 10 times out of 10 if offered. Even with this deal. the Devils still have eight other picks to today and can now move someone like Sami Vatanen or Damon Severson for additional help elsewhere.

I also really appreciate the deal because it addresses a couple of underlying concerns. First, Shero showed that he can swing a big deal without Peter Chiarelli being a fool. Second, knowing that Hall wanted the team to go out and get more talent, this deal is a clear statement that the Devils will oblige Hall. In the last 24 hours, the Devils drafted Jack Hughes and traded for P.K. Subban. There could be (and likely will be) more to come. Hall is being obliged. Third, based on the details of Subban’s contract at Cap Friendly, Devils ownership will be giving $26 million over the next three seasons with $12 million of it coming as signing bonuses in 2020 and 2021. The Devils have had oodles of cap space. They have had the ability to absorb a $9 million/season cap hit. They have utilized it. The Devils have shown to the NHL that they can and are now spending large sums of money. Fourth, there has always been a sentiment that the Devils have lacked star power beyond players who are good at hockey. With Hall being more public (e.g. playing in a Fortnite exhibition), two first overall picks and all of the buzz Nico Hischier got and Jack Hughes will get, and now a guy who had his own talk show special on NBCSN on the All Star Weekend, the Devils have star power. For these reasons, I see this as a blockbuster deal, and I am a big fan of it.

That’s my initial reaction about the trade. What do you think of the Subban trade? Let me know in the comments and vote in our poll. Thank you for reading.

Poll

The Devils traded a package for P.K. Subban. What do you think of the trade?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    I love it!
    (1014 votes)
  • 22%
    I like the trade.
    (331 votes)
  • 4%
    I don’t know / I’m in the middle.
    (70 votes)
  • 1%
    I don’t like the trade.
    (26 votes)
  • 2%
    I hate it!
    (40 votes)
1481 votes total Vote Now