Toronto Maple Leafs: P.K. Subban Is a Possible Trade Idea

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - FEBRUARY 01: P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils in action against the Dallas Stars at Prudential Center on February 01, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. The Stars defeated the Devils 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - FEBRUARY 01: P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils in action against the Dallas Stars at Prudential Center on February 01, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. The Stars defeated the Devils 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NHL Trade Deadline is here, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of different holes to fill and a few different routes they can go to fill them.

On Saturday, I wrote about five players that the Toronto Maple Leafs should consider trading for. At the top of the Leafs shopping list is a right-handed defenseman to strengthen the blue line. This is priority number one and although there are a few options available on the market, the selection isn’t that promising.

One of the five players I listed may come as a surprise to you at first, but when I think about it more, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. That’s right, I’m talking about New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban.

Subban is an interesting case. He’s 30-years-old and his prime days are behind him. He’s having arguably the worst season of his career in New Jersey and they’re sitting 27th in the entire league. But let’s forget about the fact that Subban is a big name defenseman. The Leafs could potentially use this exact scenario to their advantage. For what it is, he may not be a superstar still but he’s a very capable top-four defenseman.

Toronto has been having a tough season. And if Saturday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes (who played an emergency goaltender for half the game and won) didn’t signal the need for a shake-up, I don’t know what would. The Leafs don’t want to make any dumb moves, but a drastic one is all the more possible now. That’s why the Leafs should consider the idea of Subban as a Leaf as a possibility. I’m not saying they should go out and do it right away, but the idea is provoking. Here’s why I think so.

The Only Way They Could

Now wait, before you start calling me out on this idea, there’s only one way I would really even consider this trade, and that’s only if the Devils decided to retain half of Subban’s salary. Subban is currently signed for $9 million through the 2021-22 season. This would make his cap hit for the Toronto Maple Leafs just $4.5 million, which is a very doable number.

If you still think that’s expensive, consider the fact that Cody Ceci, who is very well-so, not a top-four defenceman (or an NHL one defenceman for that matter) is earning exactly that this season.

If we’re talking about cap space as well, the Leafs are lucky enough to have a workaround of their current cap space issues, thanks to some recent injuries. Because of the LTIR relief they currently receive, the Leafs have plenty of space to bring on one, or even two, hefty contracts for the playoffs, when the salary cap doesn’t exist.

To top things off, the Devils are obviously selling this season, and they’re selling hard. They want to offload those contracts for younger players and picks and we’ve seen their willingness to give them up for cheaper than their market value. They know Subban is regressing, so they might be all the more willing to offload him for cheap.

So keeping this in mind, if the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t orchestrate a trade for any other better top-four defensemen, Subban is a viable option, especially with the LTIR relief.

What Makes Him Worth It? He Doesn’t Need to be a Star

I’ll admit, this idea could prove to be a gamble. Subban is a big name in the NHL and with that comes a lot of pressure, both for the team and for him to perform in a market like Toronto.

We’ve seen him perform well in Montreal, so the Leafs would only hope he can relive those glory days here. Not to mention, there’s always been questions about Subban’s ego and ethic. Whether that’s true or not, I still think taking a chance on him can be worth it, especially given Toronto’s need of a shake-up.

Yes, at 30-years-old, it’s safe to say Subban’s starting to decline. But who’s to say he’s not good anymore? He’s not a superstar per se, but the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t need him to be one. The Leafs just need a capable top-four defenseman, and he is more than capable of doing that. Especially at $4.5 million, he’d be a steal of a top-four defenseman.

To top things off, the Leafs will more than likely be looking for term. I’ve talked about this in terms of the Tyson Barrie situation and with my desire to acquire Josh Manson. The Leafs already have a number of unrestricted free agents on their hands at the end of the season.

With both Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie likely walking away in the summer, it would be nice to have a defenseman with a contract that’ll last another season or two. Subban is signed for another two seasons, which would take him up until his 33rd birthday. At $4.5 million, that’s a decent price for a top-four defenseman in his early 30s, “superstar status” or not.

Ultimately, this all falls on the bet that he can still play like a top-four defenseman. I believe he can. As much as it would be great to see him suddenly play like his old self, I’m not trying to bet on it. He has been regressing, but there’s still plenty of potential for upside. After all, he’s playing on one of the worst teams in the league. There’s bound to be a drop in his play as a result.

Next. 5 Players the Leafs Should Could Trade for at the Deadline. dark

The trade deadline is today, and Kyle Dubas only has a little bit of time to try and improve things in Toronto for the rest of this season. If all else fails, this Subban idea could be one to consider.