I admit it up front, I owe Ray Shero an apology. After multiple offseasons of needlessly sitting on our cap space with other big moves happening this offseason I started to think our GM was Rip Van Shero and nothing would happen this offseason either. It always seemed like there was another excuse why we couldn’t get something done – NTC’s, saving cap space for moves that didn’t happen, someone wanting to sign somewhere else, whatever. With this being a pivotal offseason vis-à-vis Taylor Hall, it was time for the GM to do something big.
So it was that finally, Shero did do something really big this afternoon turning the draft on its ear with the acquisition of former Norris Trophy winner P.K.Subban for a relative pittance in terms of everything except cap space, of which we were finally able to take advantage of in terms of keeping the player cost of the deal down. For Subban at three years with $27 million left on his deal, the Devils only had to give up two second-rounders including our #34 pick this afternoon (which draftniks treated as a first-round talent and was probably the biggest asset we gave up in this deal), our second rounder next year, prospect defenseman Jeremy Davies and former prospect defenseman Steven Santini.
Ironically it was friend of the blog ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski who first had PK to the Devils after a few minutes of Twitter saying he’d been traded without knowing to who. In the breathless minutes that followed waiting to first find out if the trade would be confirmed by others, and then when it was waiting on what the price would be. I feared the worst in either a first-rounder or a guy we wouldn’t want to give up like Damon Severson. Thankfully because Nashville was looking to get Subban’s contract off the books completely – presumably for a run at FA pivot Matt Duchene – we finally had an edge trade-wise over teams like the Leafs, who’d just paid a hefty price dealing off Patrick Marleau to the Canes with a first-rounder to get his cap hit off the books.
When word came down about the terms of the deal I went from cautiously happy to ecstatic. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great talents I’d have liked to draft at #34 and Davies had played his value up from being a former 7th round pick. Santini could still thrive with a fresh start but things seemed to have gotten static here. Fact is though, the Devils finally got a legitimate top pairing or at worst top four defenseman for prospect depth and money. Let’s leave out the whole Subban will be a coup for Newark (for obvious reasons) talking point, I’ve always felt PK was a class act regardless and his character assassination was a product of the pirahnas in the Canadian media who’d also smeared Hall before he was out the door as well.
Talentwise he was certainly a necessary add to our D, even if he was coming off a down year (for him a down year, being on pace for about 12 goals and 40 points, both of which would have led our team). Just two years ago he had a 59-point season so he certainly has that capability in a wide-open system with young talent around him. He’ll certainly be utilized more here than he was on a stacked blueline there and hopefully has at least a couple of big seasons left. And with two second-rounders and two third-rounders remaining in this year’s draft, arguably the Devils still have enough ammunition for a forward add – or a tradeup in the draft itself – and then they won’t even have to worry about free agency and the kids can develop on their own timeline without being gifted jobs, for the most part.