This is not the first time we’ve heard rumors about P.K. Subban joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it definitely won’t be the last.
This may be click-bait, but I think there’s some truth to this rumor based on the Leafs interest in the past. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Toronto “tried” to acquire Subban last year when Nashville was shopping him. However, they were unable to get a deal done because the Predators wanted their trading partner to take on the entirety of Subban’s $9M contract, whereas the Leafs could only afford $6M.
Within this hypothetical deal, Subban’s contract is the biggest hurdle, but it’s not impossible. The Devils have the ability to retain as much as 50% of his contract, therefore it would only cost the Leafs $4.5M for two seasons at that price. If you replace Justin Holl ($2M) for Subban, all you have to do is find another $2.5M to shed.
If the Leafs send two of either Nick Robertson, Mikko Lehtonen or Rasmus Sandin to the Toronto Marlies, that’s another $1.71M saved, so the Leafs may not have to do as much movement as many think.
Would Subban Be a Good Fit in Toronto?
As much as the Toronto Maple Leafs may be interested in acquiring Subban, would this actually be a good fit?
The 31-year-old right-shot defenseman’s game has fallen off the past two seasons, but I don’t think he’s anywhere close to being finished. He may be seven years removed from his Norris Trophy Award winning season in 2012-13, but in my opinion, he has a lot to offer. I mean, it was only two seasons ago that he was a finalist for that same award. He can’t possibly be washed-up at this point.
When you think of Subban, you think of an eccentric, well-spoken and exciting hockey player. Someone who shines in the spotlight and plays his best in the biggest moments. Subban helped the Nashville Predators reach the Stanley Cup Finals a few seasons ago, but something was always missing.
Don’t get me wrong, Nashville has amazing fans, but it doesn’t have the same buzz as an “Original Six” market like Montreal. Subban was at the peak of his powers during his run with the Canadiens because his personality fits a loud hockey market. I think his game continued to falter because the electricity in Nashville wasn’t quite there and that continued when he got traded to the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils may have second-most Stanley Cup Finals appearances since 1990, but their average attendance is one of the worst in the NHL. Playing in front of 17,000-21,000 fans in Montreal and Nashville, compared to 14,000 every night in New Jersey is a big difference and I think that put a damper on Subban’s game. He’s someone who seems energized by the fans, and that’s hard to do, when half the building is empty.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs traded for him, I think you’d see the old Subban back. Toronto’s style is a fast puck-moving game and Subban fits that mold perfectly. He would potentially be an upgrade on Justin Holl, who’s currently the Leafs second-pairing right-side defenseman.
However, the biggest reason for wanting Subban to join the Leafs is because he’d be returning home. Every kid from Toronto dreams of playing for the Maple Leafs and I think Subban would seize this opportunity. Being able to play in front of his friends and family would motivate him to work harder and returning to a hockey market that cares would positively effect his game, in my opinion.
Like many rumors before this, who knows how much truth there is to this, but it intrigues me a lot. I know the money is an issue, but I’d love to see Subban in a Leafs jersey one day.