The additions of defenseman P.K. Subban and center Jack Hughes over the weekend should improve the New Jersey Devils immeasurably.
But which player will have the biggest impact on the Devils? Will it be Subban, the 30-year-old defenseman acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators for defensemen Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies and two draft picks on Saturday? Or will it be Jack Hughes, the 18-year-old center selected with the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on Friday? Subban, a 10-year NHL veteran, has 408 points (98 goals, 310 assists) in 645 games. He won the 2013 Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL, as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Hughes is one of the most highly touted prospects in recent memory; he led USA Hockey's National Team Development Program with 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games. He holds NTDP records for assists (154) and points (228).
Here, five NHL.com writers debate the impact of Subban and Hughes for the Devils next season:
Nick Cotsonika, Columnist
It's Subban, because of age, experience and position. He will not be learning what the NHL is about. He will play heavy minutes, especially in offensive situations. And he should have more motivation than Hughes, too. Perhaps Hughes has to prove he was worth the No. 1 pick, but he wasn't jettisoned because of a salary cap crunch despite his resume. Subban will want to put on a show.
Video: Subban traded to Devils during Day 2 of draft
Tom Gulitti, Staff Writer
Hughes will have more of an impact long-term, but Subban's presence will be a game-changer for the Devils on and off the ice. He'll slot into their top defense pair and top power-play unit, filling two big needs for New Jersey. His star power will make him a big attraction and also take some of the pressure off Hughes in his rookie season. Hughes is already pretty media savvy for an 18-year-old, but with Subban around he'll be able to go about his rookie season with a little less of the spotlight, which will help him focus on adjusting to the NHL on the ice.
Mike G. Morreale, Staff Writer
Hughes and Subban each is beginning a new chapter in his career. Subban has the experience but Hughes will be given every chance to succeed and his game is going to translate well to the NHL because of his skating and hockey sense. He's going to bring Devils fans out of their seats. He'll see time on the power play, and the on-ice presence of Subban will take pressure off Hughes, allowing him to do what he does best. He has excelled at every level and his transition to the NHL is going to be seamless. He was the best playmaker of this draft class and will be given every opportunity to prove it -- and he will.
Video: The crew discusses Hughes going first to the Devils
Tracey Myers, Staff Writer
It's tough not to pick Subban. But to be a devil's advocate (yep, bad pun and I feel no shame), I'm going with Hughes. You could argue Hughes started making an impact as soon as New Jersey was awarded the No. 1 pick. The 18-year-old was pegged to go first in the 2019 NHL Draft for a while, hence all those #LoseforHughes hashtags on Twitter. I'm wary of player comparisons; Hughes has often been compared to Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who won the Calder Trophy as the League's best rookie in 2007-08 with 72 points (21 goals, 51 assists). I'm not sure Hughes can hit those numbers in his first year, but he's a confident kid who will be comfortable on the big stage immediately.
Dan Rosen, Senior Writer
With all due respect to Hughes, this is a debate about next season, not his entire career. If it were the latter the answer would unquestionably be Hughes, who has a chance to be a generational player for the Devils. But Subban should play upwards of 25 minutes per game and in all situations next season. Hughes won't do that. He likely won't come close. Subban will have more responsibility and pressure. Hughes will have to feel his way into the NHL. Subban needs to dominate it. His impact, good or bad, will be a driving force. It's too much to ask Hughes to do the same right away.
Listen: NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast