Ray Shero knew he’d be leaving the West Coast with star centre Jack Hughes.
The New Jersey Devils general manager was less sure about his other big target until Saturday morning.
After selecting Hughes with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night, Shero swung a big trade moments before the second round got underway, acquiring defenceman P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators.
“Those were two good days for us,” Shero said. “We added some marquee [players] and talent.”
The trade was just one of a bevy of moves by GMs after a lot of chatter and not much movement over the previous 24 hours.
The Toronto Maple Leafs also got in on the action, dealing veteran winger Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes, while the Vancouver Canucks made some waves on their home turf inside Rogers Arena by getting forward J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nashville, Toronto and Tampa Bay each got a measure of salary cap relief in the swaps.
The Subban deal, which saw the Devils give up two depth blue-liners and two second-round picks, marks the second time in three years the 2013 Norris Trophy winner has been traded after Nashville acquired him from the Montreal Canadiens for Shea Weber in the summer of 2016.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of P.K. Subban,” Shero said. “He’s a competitor. His legacy in terms of off-ice stuff is well-known, but on the ice he’s a competitor and he wants to win.
“I love the fact he hasn’t won a Cup yet. He’s hungry for that and so are we.”
Subban posted a goodbye message on his Instagram on Saturday, thanking the Predators fans, staff and his teammates.
“I’m not going to be a stranger. I’ll be in and out of Nashville and I’ll be thinking of you guys,” he said, before adding a message to supporters of his new team: “Are you ready for the Subbanator? ‘Cause I’m ready to go!”
Marleau leaves Toronto
Toronto, meanwhile, had been looking to get Marleau’s $6.25-million US cap hit off the books as the club endeavours to re-sign Mitch Marner and fellow pending restricted free agent forward Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.
To get the deal done, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas had to sweeten the pot by including a conditional first-round pick and a seventh-round selection in 2020 for a sixth-rounder next year. If the first-round selection falls in the top-10, Toronto will instead send Carolina its 2021 first-rounder.
The Leafs now have roughly $61.5 million committed to 16 roster players next season.
Marleau issued a statement via his wife Christina’s Twitter account moments after the trade was announced, thanking the Leafs and their fans.
“It was an honour to play with the iconic Maple Leaf on my jersey, and to be a part of Leaf nation,” Marleau wrote. “There are so many incredible experiences we had while in Toronto, things my boys will remember and cherish for their entire lives.
“But the very best I will take away from my time there are the people that we all met.”
Marleau also singled out a pair of young teammates — Marner and Auston Matthews — in the post.
“You will always have a spot at our dinner table and extra sticks in our hockey room,” he added. “I’ll miss seeing you at the rink everyday. Never forget how good you guys are.”
Canucks bolster forward group
The Canucks added to their top-6 forward group by acquiring Miller from Tampa for goalie Marek Mazanec, a 2019 third-round draft pick and a 2020 conditional selection. If Vancouver is involved in next year’s draft lottery, the pick will become a 2021 first-rounder.
Day 2 of the draft, which was largely overshadowed by all the moves, opened with the Ottawa Senators selecting American centre Shane Pinto with the 32nd pick.
To see every pick from the entire draft, click the link below: