At about 11:30 am on June 22nd the Predators traded P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils. In exchange, the predators received defenseman Steven Santini, prospect Jeremy Davies, a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick in the trade. The 2019 selection is No. 34 overall, so it’s near the top of the second round on Saturday afternoon.
It seems obvious that this trade came primarily to clear cap space for upcoming free agents such as Matt Duchene, Corey Perry, and Joe Pavaleski.
The trade itself makes very little sense in my mind. P.K. Subban was a Norris trophy finalist, top 10 point leader, and one of the predators best overall players and defensemen over the last 3 years. Yes, Subban did make some mistakes that left fans scratching their head but his skill is too much to simply trade away. Subban was one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and had a dangerous slapshot and wrist shot. He also had very good puck handling and could take the puck into the offensive zone like a forward.
This move creates another question mark for the Preds heading into next season. Although it is likely that Dante Fabbro will step into Subban's spot as a 2nd line defensemen, trading Subban leaves another empty roster spot that must be filled during free agency. We saw a problem like this last season when the Predators traded for Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund, both struggled for most of the season.
Let's look at Steven Santini stats compared to P.K. Subban’s. Although it was not a straight up swap, it is likely that Santini will have a spot on the Predators next season. Since being drafted 42nd overall in the 2013 draft, Santini has played 116 games in the NHL and has a total of 21 points. Last season alone, Subban played a total of 63 games and had 31 points. It is safe to say going forward, the Preds will not look to Santini for point production. Even though Santini is not necessarily a producer, he is a tough defender similar to Dan Hamhuis. It is likely that he will compete with Yannick Weber, Dan Hamhuis, and Matt Irwin for a spot on the 3rd defensive pairing next season.
Jeremy Davies, who the predators also traded for is a prospect drafted by the devils 172nd overall in the 7th round of the 2016 draft. Davies is yet to play an NHL or AHL game. There is very little information on Davies but he is 5”11 181lbs and is 22 years old. The two second round picks the Predators acquired in the trade may prove useful as one of them is very early in the second round and there are still many high tier players available.
Since trading Shea Weber for P.K. Subban in a blockbuster trade almost 3 years ago today, the predators have been greatly improved, making the Stanley cup in Subban’s first year. Overall I do not like this trade at all. Even if the Preds were to bring in someone like Matt Duchene during free agency, he would likely come with a hefty price tag of 9 million dollars a year or more (Subbans contract was 9m/year). I like the looks of other free agents such as Corey Perry or Joe Paveleski as they are both forwards who have proven themselves and would likely come in at a low cost.
In my mind it was not a coincidence that when Subban was traded for Weber the Predators made the Stanley cup.
Maybe this was the shake up that everyone claimed the Predators needed but I don’t see it.