Should the Oilers Consider P.K. Subban?

The Nashville Predators are just one of many teams that fell victim to a surprising and early exit from the playoffs this season. The favorites in their series with the Dallas Stars, the Preds were bounced in six games and under-achieved with only 12 goals for and 18 goals against.

Their leading scorer was Roman Josi with four points and on a major level, the big stars on the team didn’t come through when they were needed most. Among that list, P.K. Subban was largely and shockingly less effective than fans have come to expect.

The Predators will make changes. Is Subban among them?

Why Would Nashville Trade Subban?

Subban is a highly-effective player but he’s also the team’s highest-paid player. He’s well aware of the fact that when it comes to the business of NHL hockey, a team that under-performs like the Predators did are bound to experience changes.

In a recent interview with John Glennon of The Athletic, Subban admitted he understood what might happen this offseason. It’s not what he wants, but he gets it.

Subban said, “I would love to continue my career here, and who knows? Your career is long. But Nashville is a very hard place not to imagine yourself playing.”

He added:

“I can’t think of anything in a negative way about this organization or city or my transition here that would want me to play anywhere else. But at the same token, if I’m talking facts, I’m the highest-paid player on this team, and with that comes a responsibility.”

Subban didn’t say exactly the same thing when he left Montreal but while he was a Canadien, he did suggest he’d never imagine himself playing anywhere else. This is the kind of guy Subban is: loyal and open in his communication with anyone who asks. He’s a personality, not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Related: NHL Rumors: Subban, Karlsson, Maple Leafs, More

Why the Oilers Would Be Interested

Outside of the loyal and open part of Subban’s personality that is attractive to any player playing in a hockey-mad market like Edmonton, Subban is a heck of a hockey player. His cap hit at $9 million per season is certainly problematic, but there are few players in the NHL at that price point one can argue provide value. Many will suggest Subban is among them.

P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban (76). THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A 29-year-old right-handed defenseman with offensive skill is exactly what Edmonton will be looking for this summer. He had 31 points in 63 games this season, 59 points in 82 games last season and 40 points in 66 games the season prior. He’s got a rocket from the point, he’s a true leader and a proven All-Star willing to take the heat and require others be responsible.

Edmonton would like to find their solution at a less costly rate but Nashville might be willing to take a good chunk of salary back in the right deal. There is a lot the Oilers could use here.

Related: NHL Rumors: Babcock, McCrimmon, Sabres, More

Still, This Might Not Be Oilers Best Fit

Subban is shiny and dynamic and two or three seasons ago, would have been an ideal option for the Oilers. Today, he’s an expensive asset with some questions about his durability.

PK Subban Predators
PK Subban, Nashville Predators Oct. 19, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He would be the biggest acquisition on the blue line since Chris Pronger, but if his play is starting to decline, this is a risk Edmonton potentially can’t afford to get wrong. With a new GM coming in, it may not be wise to take such a large gamble so quickly. Subban has the potential to be a fantastic addition, but he also has the ability to make someone look foolish.

To make this work, the Oilers will have to give up a lot. The question then becomes how much and is the package going the other way worth Subban coming in, both now and in the future?

In a world of rising salaries, $9 million is not a life sentence in the NHL. That said, for the Oilers it could be incredibly tricky to fit Subban in, and, it’s not like Nashville will happily take a player like Milan Lucic or Adam Larsson in exchange.

On the surface, the idea of adding Subban is an attractive one. Unfortunately, a lot of pieces would have to fall in to place first to make it work and that’s not likely. As much as I’d like to say the Oilers should go after him if he becomes available, I can’t in good conscience cheer for clearing the space it would take to fit in his $9 million for three more seasons.