2. P.K. Subban Re-signs
This one might not be as surprising as others on the list. Many fans are hoping for P.K. Subban to return after he finally found a role that fit him. It took three years, but we were seeing the best out of Subban. Did he still make frustrating mistakes on the ice? Sure, but what third-line right-handed defender doesn’t?
As Tom Fitzgerald said during his end-of-the-year press conference, right-handed defenders don’t grow on trees. Right now, the Devils’ options on the right side are Damon Severson and Dougie Hamilton, which is a phenomenal one-two punch on the right side. Most teams are desperately looking for right-handed defenders, and the Devils had three this past season.
Of course, Subban’s $9 million cap hit made it impossible to trade him this past season. Moving him to a much smaller salary could make it palatable to bring him back. Outside of Hamilton, Subban, and Severson, the Devils’ options on the right side are dwindling at best. Reilly Walsh is the team’s best right-handed prospect, and he has one more year on his entry-level contract. He’s probably looking for an opportunity. Ty Smith has played on his off-hand before, but he needs to focus on just being a competent NHL player without worrying about a whole new side.
Outside of that, just about everyone else is left handed. Luke Hughes is left handed. Shakir Mukhamadullin is on his way to the United States, but the former first-round pick is also left handed. The Devils could get a draft pick that is high enough to take Simon Nemec, and he could be the future of right-handed defensemen, but that wouldn’t help the Devils next season. Adding Subban makes a lot of sense, and it sounds like he’d be open to returning.