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The NHL season is fast approaching, and with training camps opening in a few weeks, there are still a few lesser-known agents available. After signing Phil Kessel with the Vegas Golden Knights last week, none of the remaining free agents had a stellar type about PK Subban.
At 33 years old, Suban is heading into his thirteenth season and coming off a three-year stint with the New Jersey Devils, which has seen two of the worst points-producing seasons as well as below-average possession stats at 5. over 5.
Last season, CorsiFor ranked fifth over the Devils among defenders, but his expected goal percentage was second with D Corps. At one point in his career, Suban was a major figure in the power game, but that has evaporated in the past two years. Given that the Devils were a lottery team, it’s more insulting than it sounds.
Suban is still looking for an opportunity with another team, and at this point, you should consider looking for a team seeking a Stanley Cup. Then again, a healthy dose of ice time and the chance to prove he’s still alive might be just as attractive. But what places are suitable for the 2013 Norris Cup winner? Let’s look around the league.
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Patrice Bergeron Shade PK Suban (Photo: Fred Kfoury III/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)
We know what you’re thinking: “Why would Suban want to play for the team he was glad he tortured during his time with the Montreal Canadiens?” The answer is easy: there is opportunity.
The Bruins have had a laundry list of defenders who have undergone off-season surgery and who will most likely not be available to play at the season opener in October. Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) may not be ready until December, Matt Grzelcic (shoulder) will likely be out until November, while Mike Riley (ankle) and Jacob Zborel (knee) may be back in time for training camp.
Playing without McAvoy for two months is difficult because he is a defensive man of Norris’ caliber. Grzelcyk is one of their best puck players and has a solid overall game where his offensive abilities are his strong point. McAvoy is a right shot and patrols the right side of the defense. Coincidentally, this is where Suban plays as well. Finding someone to replace McAvoy is impossible. No one will ever be good enough.
But the Bruins lack the depth of the Blue Line, and if they need a puck engine that can help in their time of need, asking Subban to tweak the hit and provide depth couldn’t hurt. New coach Jim Montgomery also brings in a style of hockey that requires strong defensive play, which may help reduce some of Suban’s more aggressive tendencies.
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PK Subban had a tough ride from William Carrier (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
There is no city brighter than Las Vegas, and there is no NHL player embracing the spotlight like PK Subban. There is also the fact that golden knights can use some depth during their defensive unit.
Vegas owner Bill Foley was all about winning and bringing the pinnacle of sports entertainment to the strip. During five seasons, he was able to do that…until last season, though. Vegas’ lack of playoffs has become a major concern for team management, and because it’s somewhat strapped it makes it difficult to fix the roster. Of course, I found ways to get around that. With Robin Lehner out this year as well as the addition of the injured Shea Weber contract, Vegas has plenty of LTIR spending to take care of things. So why not add some experience to the blue line by adding Sabban?
Vegas has a six-man defense, and with elite players like Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore to go with solid support from Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb and Zach Whitecloud, the Golden Knights are in great shape. Ben Hutton and Nicolas Hague should finish their NHL setup, but Vegas can always use more help. Claiming Suban to draw on his strengths to hold the disc and contribute to the attack could give the cavalry attack a jolt.
The Subban character is a natural fit for a Las Vegas aura, too. There are some cities in the NHL that get a boost when you play characters there, and Vegas is one of them. He can use a little juice now.
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PK’s collaboration with Anthony Dockler could make the Cheetahs even more exciting (Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
One NHL team with a lot of pressure on them this season is the Florida Panthers. They won the Presidents Cup last season with 122 points but did not retain interim coach Andrew Brunet, opting instead to hire Paul Morris. They made a huge business deal with Calgary to acquire Matthew Tkachuk. Panthers mean business, but their defense lacks depth. Suban might be the type to help them in trouble.
Florida doesn’t really fall short in any area, and its defense, especially on the right side (Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour, Radko Judas), is solid. The left side is a little young, albeit with some experience (with the exception of Mark Stahl). If there is one thing that applies to any championship team, it is that no position is taken for granted and an injury or two can sink it.
The idea of a South Florida Subban on a third mating—and he probably doesn’t play much either—may not appeal to him. However, being on an immediate Stanley Cup rival team that happens to be so close to Miami Beach might be attractive enough to be okay with the role shrinking.
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Juhu Lameko won’t have to catch PK Subban if they are teammates (Photo: Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Canucks have always been in need Something To keep things alive. This summer has been loaded with “would they, won’t” discussions around the impending trade of UFA striker JT Miller, as well as questioning exactly which direction the franchise is headed. Not only has it been a summer full of modern bliss, that’s for sure, but there’s also part that they haven’t done much all summer to fix the list.
Vancouver has a lot of holes, and their depth is questionable in all places, especially along the Blue Line. She has name quality with Queen Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larson and Tyler Myers, but with Luke Schenn and Travis Dermott, she needs more. You could get a boost in the back line from youngsters like Jack Rathbone or even Jet Woo, but both are green.
We know the NHL group doesn’t exactly swim in defensive prowess and that Subban defensive game has gotten weaker in the past few seasons, but with Bruce Boudreau behind the bench, he’s able to get the best out of players – especially those who like to push speed and play with the puck. . Seems like a great place to work in Span. Boudreau is kind of a whisper when it comes to reaching out to his players, and if Subban had more to prove, Bruce could show him where he is.
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PK Subban could be Zach Werenski’s defense partner rather than his rival if he goes to Columbus (Photo: Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Blue Jackets are on roll this season. They signed Johnny Goudreau of Calgary and secured Patrick Lane on a four-year, $38 million contract. They are exciting players in a market that could use more excitement, and who better than BK Suban to do that?
The apparent explosiveness of the Blue Jackets team up front is countered by how opaque their defense appears. Zach Ferensky is the main guy. They signed Eric Godbranson to a four-year, $16 million contract to give them physical strength. Vladislav Gavrikov has been a solid two-way defender who has developed into steady minutes in the past two seasons. Younger guys like Adam Bockvist and Jake Bean are still establishing themselves at the NHL level, and after them, their depth gets a bit cloudy.
Obviously adding Subban to the mix would give them an experienced player, but also someone that Boqvist and Bean learn when it comes to holding the puck and pushing the pace on the attack. Subban will also add another veteran voice on the set to go with Jakub Voracek and Gustav Nyquist (both 33 years old). Columbus surprised a bit last season with his performance, especially when he thought things were going to get a little ugly. Jackets rise high with feelings, and if there is a player who embodies the meaning of “feelings”, it is PK
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Being away for so long means that a reunion will make a lot of people happy… if that happens. (Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Always fun to end with a bang, isn’t it? The relationship between Subban and Habs at the time he was traded to Nashville for Shea Weber was one of the most awkward relationships ever on public display. Suban was a larger-than-life figure in Montreal and a man of the people because he donated so much money to the Children’s Hospital of Montreal. He also made Habs executives eat the crow when they signed him to a bridge deal at the height of his abilities, essentially proving he was worthy of a long-term deal. He did it by winning the Norris Cup, and things are not the same after that. GM Marc Bergevin signed him to an eight-year, $72 million contract.
Bergievin’s gone, Webber’s career ended with his Vegas rights, and Carrie Price’s future on edge. Saying different things about the last time Suban wore “bleu, blanc et rouge” is an oversimplification. The Canadians, on paper, are set to be one of the worst teams in the NHL, but with Martin St. Louis as coach, there is hope on the horizon. But they can make people feel better and maybe fix some fences while giving their defensive weapon some veteran support.
Three or four positions in Canadian defense are primarily talked about, with Mike Matheson, Joel Edmondson, David Savard and Chris Weidman. Youngsters Justin Barron, Jordan Harris and Kidden Goal might play in the mix, but they’re throwing a pile of young players into what will be a tough season in defense that may not be overly attractive. Bringing Suban back as a third duo player and welcoming him back warmly could go a long way in providing some smiles for what could be a relegation season.