After three years of mediocre performance, it’s time for the New Jersey Devils to move on and trade away defenseman P.K. Subban.
When the New Jersey Devils made the trade to acquire defenseman P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators, the team was expecting to receive an elite blue-liner who could provide offense and consistency in the defensive zone. Three years in, however, Subban has yet to register 20 points for the Devs while upholding a pitiful -43 +/- rating across his duration in the black and red.
To say the least, the 2012-13 James Norris Trophy winner simply hasn’t given the boost on the back end that the Devils were hoping for when they sent Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies, and two 2nd-Round draft picks in the summer of 2019 to the Predators.
Through 56-games played this season, P.K. Subban has recorded 3 goals and 15 assists with a -6 +/-, averaging the lowest ice time per game of his 13-year NHL career at 19:02 as he’s alternated between the second and third defensive pairing due to his struggles to find any consistency on the ice. The amount of turnover-worthy plays that Subban generates is appalling and there are moments in games in which he forgets he’s even playing hockey.
If P.K. Subban were making $4.5 million, you could look past some of the negatives from his play because, in all fairness, he’s currently on one of the lowest-ranked teams in the NHL. However, considering the fact that he makes double that ($9 million AAV), it emphasizes how abhorrent his performance is and how unacceptable it is for someone to be paid like a superstar, but play like a bubble player.
New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald recently met with the 3x All-Star defenseman and discussed how the team will not offer a contract extension and will be shopping him for a suitor that can provide compensation for the organization while also giving him the opportunity to succeed elsewhere. This comes as a surprise to none as he’s in the final year of his colossal contract.
Nobody wants to take on a significant cap-hit at the NHL Trade Deadline, much less for someone who doesn’t come close to playing to the value of what his team is paying him for. As we’ve seen in the transaction for defenseman Josh Manson by the Colorado Avalanche, the Anaheim Ducks were required to retain 50% of Manson’s $4.1 million AAV to close out the deal.
After looking at the return value for the Ducks, as they received a legitimate defensive prospect in Drew Helleson as well as a 2023 2nd-Round draft pick from the Avalanche, the New Jersey Devils could look to follow their lead by retaining a significant portion of P.K. Subban’s contract to entice more offers. Fitzgerald’s current asking price for potential trade partners is a mid-round/future draft choice and a depth player.
There are plenty of teams in need of defensemen who can play on the second/third pairing and in a tight market right now for blue-liners, you could see more teams take interest in the veteran as we inch towards the March 21st deadline.