I could tell a couple of days ago that I would get carried away with Leafs trade speculation. The fact that we were treated to an early Kasperi Kapanen trade, we’re seeing a barrage of Frederik Andersen rumours, and the fact that we’ve still got over a month until the draft means that there is going to be a lot of trade talk going forward. Also a lot of draft talk. A lot of free agent talk. And probably a lot of Assistant Coach talk. Today we’ll revisit one of the players who has historically dominated Leafs trade speculation, and that’s P.K. Subban.
It’s probably worth acknowledging right off the hop that P.K. Subban isn’t P.K. Subban of a couple of years ago. Time makes fools of us all. In this case I’m probably the fool for not letting go of the idea of trading for Subban. There’s also the small matter of Subban’s contract, a contract that will carry a cap hit of $9M in each of the next two seasons. That’s not particularly attractive.
Now, let’s look at why Subban might be an attractive option.
Well, he’s still P.K. Subban. He still has some pep in his step, he still has a power play point shot that was lacking for the Leafs last season, and there’s a distinct possibility that once you get him away from a very bad Devils team that he can at least return to modest version of the results he was producing in Nashville.
As for Subban’s numbers over the past three years, well…
|Stats from Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference|
So there has been a steady decline a season that had Subban make the second All-Star team and finish 3rd in Norris votes. In fact that last season in Nashville resulted in a trade with New Jersey that was an aggressive attempt to get out from under his contract. Nashville picked up 2 2nd round picks for him, and took on Steven Santini who played just two games for them this season.
With Subban taking another step back and his contract not looking any better, it’s an opportunity for the Leafs to roll the dice on a defenseman who should comfortable fit into their top four, but give up even less to take Subban on, and given what we know about the Devils they were quite aggressively trying to rid themselves of Subban’s contract at the trade deadline. Ideally this is a chance for the Leafs to possibly acquire another worthwhile asset from the Devils.
As for what the Devils want or need out of this, well, I’m sure they’d just as soon not pay for Subban when they are a couple of years removed from being competitive, and at that time Subban will surely be moving on. They also have some specific needs, like absolutely everything, given that their defense is entirely dependent on Severson and also Ty Smith panning out soon. Their goaltending situation is reliant on Mackenzie Blackwood’s trial by fire continuing to be a positive story, and being hopeful that Jack Hughes career just got off to a slow start. The Leafs could help address a few needs by also trying to make the salary work for the Leafs.
|To Leafs||To Devils|
|P.K. Subban||Frederik Andersen|
|Canucks 1st Rd Pick 2020||Andreas Johnsson|
So as much as this deal is about acquiring Subban, it’s equally about the Leafs picking up another 1st round pick, giving them even more flexibility at the draft, or enabling them to restock for the future.
From the Devils perspective they get a decent defenseman, a decent forward, both of who can play significant minutes for them, and a goaltender that they can test out for the year and potentially flip at the trade deadline if their season goes as expected and they don’t want Andersen back for another year. This might be reaching on my side, but these all seem like pieces the Devils could use.
As for the Leafs, they get their coveted right handed defenseman who can play in their top four. His skillset suits him to play with someone like Jake Muzzin, giving the Leafs the opportunity to shelter Rielly against top lines more and play him with Holl in what is still not a completely ideal defensive group, but an upgrade over last season.
The Leafs also pick up important hockey trade currency in the form of the lowest 1st round pick owned by the Devils. It’s something the Leafs could flip, but personally something I’d like to see Toronto use in order to address their prospect depth.
The catch to this is that the move leaves the Leafs without a starting goaltender, and there will most definitely be a need to address that further with limited cap space. A future move would definitely be required as well, but if the Leafs are in fact making an overhaul of their roster, we shouldn’t be surprised by future moves still being expected.
The biggest looming piece from the Leafs perspective might be around if they can get the Devils to retain cap space to help them out further. It seems unlikely, but really doesn’t this entire deal seem unlikely, and frankly a little stupid to you?
As much as it’s something I’ve talked myself into wanting, it’s not likely something we’ll see. Given that the TLN crew has been judging some of Leafs twitter’s trade proposals this week I figured it was only fair to put one of my own out there to be subjected to the same ridicule. I hope that getting worked up over this post has added to your day in a meaningful way.
On the off chance you didn’t mind this idea. Let me know. Your validation fuels me.