Introducing The Hockey Writers’ Countdown to Puck Drop sequence. From now till the puck drops on the 2019-20 NHL’s common season on Oct. 2 when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators, we’ll be producing content material that’s linked to the variety of days remaining on that individual day. Some posts could also be related to a participant’s quantity, whereas others will likely be linked to a 12 months or size of time. We’re actually enthusiastic about this sequence as we take you thru the rest of summer time in anticipation of the return of NHL hockey.
In 76 days, the NHL kicks off the 2019-20 common season. In commemoration of that, we’re going to speak about the one participant in Nashville Predators historical past to put on the No. 76 jersey, P.Ok. Subban. It’s additionally a great time to debate him for the reason that Predators lately traded him to the New Jersey Devils so as to set up the cap house essential to signal Matt Duchene.
Subban’s Arrival in Nashville
The Predators acquired Subban from the Montreal Canadiens in one of the crucial memorable trades in latest historical past, sending captain Shea Weber again. In June 2016, when the commerce occurred, Subban had already been a Norris Trophy winner and a two-time all-star. He’d additionally been a Norris finalist one different time.
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He had three 50-point seasons beneath his belt and was seen as one of many league’s most dynamic defensemen, often taking up video games with a blistering slap shot or an correct outlet move to spring his teammates on a breakaway. And at 27, he was nonetheless within the prime of his profession, making the six years and $54 million left on his contract not a lot of a threat.
Former Predator P.Ok. Subban (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeffrey T. Barnes)
In the meantime, Weber had simply accomplished his age-30 season and had 10 years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $7,857,143. The commerce seemed like a win for each groups within the rapid years that adopted, nevertheless, it was virtually sure to be a long-term Predators win. Sadly, it didn’t grow to be that slam-dunk win for the Predators.
Highest Highs: Norris Finalist & All-Star
Subban’s 2016-17 season, his first in Nashville, began off nice. He started by posting 14 factors in his first 20 video games, though he was a minus-seven. Nonetheless, an upper-body harm in December value him 16 video games and it took him awhile to recuperate, posting three factors in his first 10 video games again. In complete, he completed with 10 objectives and 40 factors in 66 regular-season video games. Regardless of the harm, his .75 points-per-game (P/G) price was nonetheless the second-highest of his profession.
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So contemplating it was his first season with a brand new staff, it was a fairly good one. It was a good higher one when you think about that he and Mattias Ekholm established a dominant protection pair. Subban stepped up his sport within the postseason with two objectives and 12 factors in 22 video games. The Predators have been nice in video games during which he scored, going 7-2 in them because the staff reached the Stanley Cup Closing for the primary time in franchise historical past.
Subban helped the Predators attain the 2017 Stanley Cup Closing (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports activities)
The following season, 2017-18, Subban was even higher, scoring 16 objectives and 59 factors in 82 video games. His 59 factors have been the second most of his profession and his 16 objectives set a profession excessive. He completed third on the staff in factors and tied for eighth amongst defensemen league-wide. He did that whereas possessing a 51.6 p.c Corsi and beginning within the defensive zone 57.5 p.c of the time.
He and Ekholm grew to become the staff’s shutdown pair and performed an enormous position within the Predators successful the Presidents’ Trophy for the primary time. He was as soon as once more robust within the postseason with 4 objectives and 9 factors in 13 video games and a 55.eight p.c Corsi. His season concluded with a third-place end in Norris voting and a spot on the league’s second all-star staff. It’s truthful to say expectations have been excessive for him coming into 2018-19. Sadly, the season by no means lived as much as these expectations.
Lowest Lows: Accidents & Disengaged Play
Nothing ever actually felt proper for the 2018-19 Predators. Positive, they gained the Central Division, however they struggled to attain objectives, their goaltending seemed shaky at instances, and even their vaunted protection didn’t stay as much as expectations. The final phrase definitely applies to Subban’s season. In 63 video games, he posted 9 objectives and 31 factors, his lowest level complete since 2009-10 when he performed in two video games. His .49 P/G common was his lowest since 2011-12.
His season really began off nice, with 11 factors in his first 15 video games. Nonetheless, an upper-body harm suffered on Nov. 13 value him 19 video games. As soon as once more he struggled to bounce again from the harm, with solely seven factors in his first 20 video games again. He ultimately discovered his sport, ending the season off with six factors in his ultimate 10 video games. He even seemed nice throughout that stretch, particularly in an April 2 sport towards the Buffalo Sabres. Nonetheless, it was nonetheless too little too late.
Subban’s struggles fall solely on his personal shoulders, too, as Ekholm had the perfect season of his profession with eight objectives and 44 factors. Subban did proceed his uptick in play within the playoffs with three factors in six video games, nevertheless it nonetheless didn’t make up for a poor common season. In complete, 2018-19 was the worst season of his profession and it finally capped off an up and down tenure in Nashville.
A Bittersweet Goodbye
The highs have been very excessive as he established himself because the staff’s greatest defenseman. Sadly, the lows have been simply as low. Accidents value him at the very least 16 video games in two of his three seasons, a problem is more likely to solely worsen now that he’s on the mistaken aspect of 30, and there have been many stretches during which he seemed disinterested and his defensive sport was lackluster at greatest. Moreover, his down 2018-19 season restricted his commerce worth when the Predators wanted it to be as excessive as potential.
Seeing Subban go away was troublesome. I used to be, and stay, a fan of him. Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply his departure wasn’t price it. The Predators wanted offense and his cap hit impeded their capability to deal with that want. So regardless that they obtained virtually nothing in return, the cap house that was created was sufficient worth for the staff.
His Predators tenure will finally be outlined by what occurs sooner or later: Does Duchene push the Predators over the sting? How a lot of a lift does Subban give the Devils? And can the Predators obtain any worth from the property they obtained from the Devils? No matter what occurs, Subban was a superb soldier who performed the position requested of him. It’s unlucky, however we should shut the ebook on his tenure and transfer ahead.