Last season the New Jersey Devils finished second-to-last in the Eastern conference and so far this offseason they’ve been extremely busy. It started with them winning the NHL Draft lottery and then yesterday they used that pick on Jack Hughes, the center from Orlando, Florida, who has long been viewed as one of the best prospects in draft history.
Following that, the Devils stayed busy this morning clearly showing that they want to improve and improve quick and they did that by trading Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies and a second-round pick in this years draft and next years draft in exchange for Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.
The team also made a smaller trade where they traded prospect John Quenneville to the Blackhawks in exchange for forward John Hayden.
Let’s take a look at both deals and how they impact the Devils and the other teams involved in the two deals.
The P.K. Subban deal
P.K. Subban has been one of the top defenseman in hockey since he entered the league and finished sixth for the Calder Trophy. He is a three-time All-Star and he won the Norris Trophy following the 2012-13 season and he has finished third for the award twice since then.
While he has missed his fair share of games during his career and that’s a downside of Subban, when he’s healthy he is someone who is good for about 40-50 assists and at least double-digit goals.
In the last two seasons that he has played the full 82-game schedule, he has compiled over 10 point shares and in the 2014-15 season he lead the league in defensive point shares with 6.6.
Subban has also been solid during the postseason in his career, most notably his play during the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs where he and the Predators made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing in six games to the Penguins.
New Jersey had a terrible season last season but the year before they were in the playoffs. Last season though they were terrible on both ends of the ice and adding Subban should help on both ends because he brings a lot of value to the offensive end for a defenseman and on defense he is of course very good.
After making the Stanley Cup Finals, the Predators have had two really good regular seasons but they have flamed out earlier than expected in the playoffs, so it’s not surprising they decided to shake things up this offseason.
Steven Santini is a 24-year old defenseman who has showed a lot of potential on the defensive end of things, but he needs to start showing improvement in his offensive game for him to become a real factor on the ice.
Jeremy Davies is a really good pickup for Nashville as he is viewed largely as one of the top prospects in the Devils system and he has been pretty prolific during his college career, so there’s a good chance he could be the most important piece in this deal for Nashville.
The two second-round picks could also turn out to be valuable depending on where they decide to go with them, but we will have to wait and see on that one.
Subban has a cap hit of $9 million each of the next three seasons so this deal will clear a good amount of cap space for the Predators as they try and retool things this offseason, but they will also have to really develop the young players they get out of this deal because Subban is one of the more established and better defenseman in the league.
Acquisition of John Hayden
John Hayden is a 24-year old center, who has shown very small flashes. This certainly isn’t the magnitude of deal that the Subban deal is but they are getting a young center who has a chance to develop, but the same could be said about John Quenneville as they have been nearly the same player to this point in their careers and they play the same position.
There’s not too much to look at in this deal because both players have such small sample sizes at the NHL level and they are also both so young and have a lot of room to grow. This is a situation where a change of scenery could benefit both.
The Devils should be improved this season. As I’ve already stated Subban is one of the top players in the league at his position and they are bringing in the prodigy Jack Hughes.
On top of that New Jersey has a lot of cap space to make moves happen this offseason and that is even after taking into consideration them absorbing Subban’s deal, as he will be the highest-paid player on the team.
New Jersey still needs to add offense to their team and they would greatly benefit from adding another defenseman. The goaltending situation will also be something to watch because their goaltending was pretty spotty last season, but they have MacKenzie Blackwood on an extremely cheap deal right now and in his last 11 games last season he had a save percentage of .913 on 355 shots.
Blackwood could easily be the direction that the Devils decide to go with their goalie situation this season and they could be smart for that because of his salary and his production at the end of the season last season. He does have a small sample size however so that could be a risk, but he has the size to be a good goaltender.
New Jersey fans should be excited though because the team is clearly trying to improve quickly and is willing to make a big splash.
Top Photo: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press