5 Things That Must Happen For New Jersey Devils To Win Stanley Cup

New Jersey Devils watch a Stanley Cup Champions banner (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils watch a Stanley Cup Champions banner (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) /
3 of 6
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (76): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /

2. P.K. Subban Has To Be A Top-Line Defenseman Again

The defense is the glaring weakness on the Devils. This is the headline for this franchise for many years now. The various GMs have tried to rebuild a blue line that was once held down by the likes of Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Ken Daneyko, Brian Rafalski, and Colin White. Over the past eight years, this unit has struggled to even stay relevant.

The Devils tried making Sami Vatanen the top guy. They threw money at Ben Lovejoy. They attempted to give bigger roles to Andy Greene and Bryce Salvador. The team attempted to build from within with the likes of Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, Alexander Urbom, and Steve Santini (among many, many others). Nothing seemed to work. Then, last offseason, Ray Shero went for broke. He traded for P.K. Subban and the entirety of his $9 million contract.

Subban was, in a word, terrible last season. He looked lost on the ice, he was constantly out of position, and his offense fell off at an unprecedented pace. Subban went from 59 points in his Vezina finalist year in 2018-19, to 31 points in his injury-riddled final season in Nashville, to a paltry 18 points last season. He played almost every game, and he just could not put the puck in the net or set up his teammates for a goal. He was bad.

Subban clearly has talent. He’s only 31 years old. There’s a chance he made too many changes to his body to compensate for a back injury, and that could have caused him to lose a step. If he gets himself back into the right shape, and he gets his speed back, he could be a very good defenseman.

He doesn’t need to be a Vezina-caliber defenseman. The Devils can win it all if Subban is just one of the 20-best defensemen in the league. A lot of other things need to go right, too, but Subban just needs to be worthy of being the best defenseman on a championship team. If he’s below the top 20, it’s not likely the Devils have enough on that unit to win it all. The tandem of Crawford and Blackwood can make up for a lot, but they can’t do it all by themselves.