VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Nashville Predators All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban has been traded to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Steven Santini, prospect Jeremy Davies and a second-round pick in 2019 and 2020, the teams announced.
Subban, 30, spent the past three seasons with the Predators. This is the second time in three years Subban has been traded. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Montreal Canadiens before he was shipped to Nashville in a blockbuster deal for Shea Weber in 2016.
“We appreciate P.K.’s contribution to the Predators and the Nashville community over the past three seasons, which have seen our organization have unprecedented success,” Predators general manager David Poile said in a statement. “He was an integral part of our run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the 2018 Presidents’ Trophy and back-to-back Central Division titles. His work off the ice speaks for itself — he was an impactful member of our community, especially through the groundbreaking Blueline Buddies initiative.
“We had to make a business decision. With an aim at strengthening our forward corps this offseason, and the continued strength of our defensive group, we felt it was necessary to clear up salary cap space this way.”
It has been a big draft weekend for New Jersey, which selected American-born center Jack Hughes with the No. 1 pick Friday night.
Subban, the 2013 Norris Trophy winner, was limited to 63 games last season and saw his ice time reduced to 22:40 a night after averaging more than 26 minutes a night between 2014 and 2016. His offensive numbers dipped last season as well, as he posted only nine goals and 22 assists.
He carries a $9 million cap hit on his contract, which runs through 2021-22. It is the third-highest cap hit for a defenseman in the NHL, trailing only San Jose‘s Erik Karlsson ($11.5 million) and Los Angeles‘ Drew Doughty ($11 million).
Nashville will not retain any of Subban’s salary, which means it is a huge cost-clearing move for the team. The Predators are now expected to be active in free agency and should be among the leading contenders for center Matt Duchene, among other high-profile available players.
Subban had a no-movement clause while he was with Montreal, although Nashville did not honor that clause. Poile, always active on the trade market, is extremely stingy with handing out no-movement clauses. The only player on the Predators’ current roster who has one is goalie Pekka Rinne.
The Devils missed the playoffs last season but have been expected to make a splash next season. Their biggest priority now is re-signing 2018 MVP Taylor Hall, who becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
New Jersey also traded 2014 first-round draft pick John Quenneville to the Chicago Blackhawks for winger John Hayden. Quenneville has played 33 games over three seasons with three goals and five assists, while Hayden has eight goals and 14 assists in three seasons.
Nashville was expected to make seismic changes to its roster this offseason, considering the Predators’ crunch against the salary cap and the fact that they flamed out in the playoffs for the second straight year, despite hefty expectations after making the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.
Santini, 24, has played in 114 games for the Devils over the past four seasons, including 39 games last season. He had one goal and three assists while averaging 16:39 ice time a night.
Davies, 22, was a seventh-round pick of the Devils in 2016 but has since raised his profile as a strong offensive-minded defenseman prospect. Davies played for Northeastern University for three seasons.
The Predators traded the second-round pick this year (No. 34 overall) to the Philadelphia Flyers for picks Nos. 45 and 65. They used those picks to select wingers Egor Afanasyev and Alexander Campbell.