Devils’ Marino Trade Affects P.K. Subban’s Future With Team

On Saturday afternoon (July 16), Tom Fitzgerald made another move to improve the New Jersey Devils. It wasn’t a name many expected, though, as John Marino came over from the division rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Going the other way was former first-round pick Ty Smith and a 2023 third-round pick. The Devils’ defense was bolstered in the short term and now many are wondering about the future of free agent P.K. Subban.

The Career of P.K. Subban

Subban has had a remarkable NHL career up to this point. During his time with the Montreal Canadiens, he was a three-time All-Star, the 2013 Norris Trophy winner, and a member of the 2010-11 All-Rookie Team. A 2016 trade sent him to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber, where he made an instant impact. While he had a down year by his standards, he put up 12 points in 22 playoff games and played a crucial role in their run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
P.K. Subban during his time as alternate captain of the Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the summer of 2019, Subban was sent to the Devils, in exchange for Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies, and two second-round draft picks. With the Devils, his offense took a hit, as in 2019-20, the COVID-shortened season, he had 18 points in 68 games. He bounced back the following season, putting up 19 points in 44 games, and this past season, the 32-year-old only had 22 points in 77 games, but he did win a King Clancy Award for his off-ice contributions (from ‘Devils’ P.K. Subban should be remembered for off-the-ice legacy’, New York Post, 3/19/22).

Where Could Subban Go?

With the Devils’ acquisition of John Marino, the team has a solid top six on defense. However, this does not factor in Subban. There is a very real possibility that he will continue to test the market, signaling his potential departure from the Garden State. Obviously, he is not the player he once was in Montreal and Nashville, but he could still be a leadership presence for a contending team. Who could take a chance on the Toronto native?

Related: Devils’ Defensive Depth Improves with Marino Trade

One team that comes to mind is the Dallas Stars. They are coming off a first-round playoff defeat at the hands of the Calgary Flames, and have been reportedly linked to some of the defensive free agents. With the possibility of losing John Klingberg, they could use a replacement. Subban might not be able to match his previous production, but he could be a mentor to Miro Heiskanen, one of the league’s youngest up-and-coming defensemen. Plus, with names like Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin only getting older, their time to win is now.

Another fit I could see is one of Subban’s old teams, the Predators. The team has just over $9 million in cap space, and they know him well. Mattias Ekholm, his old defensive partner, is also on the team for the next four years. It could work, but I’m not sure it is a likely scenario after they acquired Ryan McDonough a few weeks back.

PK Subban Predators
PK Subban with the Nashville Predators in 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s also possible that Subban could return to the Devils for the 2022-23 season. The players loved having him around last year, and he could take a pay cut to stick around, and with the possibility of another defenseman getting moved, he could fill that hole easily.

In his prime, Subban was one of the league’s premier defensemen. Over the course of his career, his role in the NHL has changed, going from the focal point to a solid supplementary piece. Whether his future is still in New Jersey is yet to be determined, but over the past three seasons, it’s safe to say he left his mark on the Devils and their fans, both on and off the ice.