Make no mistake, the Boston Bruins are zeroed in on acquiring a left-shot defenseman before the March 21 NHL trade deadline. More specifically, they’re targeting defensemen that can play in their top 4 defensive pairings.
So why in the name of Greg Hawgood would Don Sweeney and his staff ever be interested in New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban. What can Subban, a 32-year-old, right-shot defenseman who has been in a steady decline and battled injuries for years now, possibly do to help the Bruins take one more run at the Stanley Cup for captain Patrice Bergeron and alternate captain Brad Marchand?
“Well for starters a better alternative than Connor Clifton or a guy playing on his off-side in the third pairing,” one longtime NHL pro scout opined to Boston Hockey Now Tuesday morning. “He’s also a good fallback plan on the second powerplay for when Matt Grzelcyk gets hurt again. …sorry, but you know he will. So do I want Mike Reilly or another guy that keeps getting injured like Urho Vaakanainen, who I’m trying to trade now, by the way, manning that second unit, or someone like Subban, who until recently, always excelled on the powerplay?
In the right situation and in the playoffs, this guy can help. He just needs layers around him and obviously, the Bruins can give him that with the leaders and skill they have.”
While it may have been one of the NHL’s worst-kept secrets, New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has now confirmed that he has no intentions of bringing Subban, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July, back next season. The hope for Fitzgerald and Subban is that the Devils can move him before the NHL trade deadline to get the Devils some kind of asset and give Subban a fresh start and maybe even a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2019.
“I sat down with P.K. yesterday and we talked about uncertainty and the deadline and that we’re not at a spot where we’re looking to extend him at this point,’’ Fitzgerald told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic on Sunday. “He’s done a lot for community here and the organization. But I told him, ‘On the last day, somebody may lose a right-shot D and may call me and if the move makes sense for the New Jersey Devils and makes sense for you to potentially have a chance to win, I have to do what’s best for the organization.’’
Subban has been in NHL trade rumors for the better part of the last two seasons and while he’s been linked to the Boston Bruins, who reportedly expressed interest in him prior to the 2020 season, a well-placed source told Boston Hockey Now recently that he hasn’t been on their NHL trade target radar. Still, is it at least worth it for the Bruins to circle back and see what Fitzgerald would want in return and how much of the remaining $2.4 million left on Subban’s $9 million cap hit, he’s willing to eat for Subban who has three goals and 15 assists in 53 games this season?
The scout above made some valid points when it comes to Grzelcyk’s health and we’ve seen the highly skilled defenseman get beaten down by the escalation in physicality during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s no secret that Subban, for better or worse (maybe worse lately), thrives on and wants to be the in the spotlight. Based on what I know of the 2013 Norris Trophy winner though from covering him as a reporter and then through mutual friends, he has always wondered what it would be like to play on the other side of the Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins rivalry and for what he considers to be one of the best sports cities in the United States. This, despite the racism a despicable and small portion of the Bruins fanbase threw at him on social media during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let’s not also forget how much Subban did for the Dorchester hockey community in the aftermath of former Boston Bruins forward and son of The Dot, Jimmy Hayes passing away last summer.
— MurphysLaw74 (@MurphysLaw74) August 30, 2021
Subban is fighting for his career right now and if there’s one thing – as that sad experience showed – he’s done throughout his life, it’s overcome adversity. If the price is right, this could be a win-win for all involved and even if Subban can’t find his game again playing for the Stanley Cup, the worst that happens is the Bruins lose a late-round draft picks and/or a marginal prospect.