NEWARK, N.J. -- P.K. Subban said he hasn't been this excited to begin training camp in a long time.
The New Jersey Devils defenseman, in town this week for the first time since being acquired in a trade from the Nashville Predators last month, is ecstatic knowing he'll be part of such a young, talented and energetic group this season.
"I don't think I've been this excited for a training camp (in September) since my first one (with the Montreal Canadiens), so I'm excited to come in and get started," Subban said at a press conference for fans at Prudential Center on Thursday. "I definitely have been in the League long enough now to know kind of what type of environment is a winning environment and you hear it from players and hear it from coaches all the time, but I can definitely tell you this is one of the best environments I've ever been in."
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Subban, traded to the Devils for defensemen Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies and two NHL draft picks on June 22, has three seasons left on an eight-year, $72 million contract (average annual value of $9 million) he signed with the Canadiens on Aug. 2, 2014.
The 30-year-old could also be looked upon as a leader in the locker room, particularly to those young players on the roster, including 20-year-old Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, and 18-year-old Jack Hughes, the No. 1 choice of the 2019 NHL Draft.
The Devils acquired Subban the day after selecting Hughes.
"Any way I can mentor and help the young players, I will," he said. "I'm going to be there for them as much as I can and I'm excited about that. This is probably one of the only times in my career where I've been in a situation where I have a lot more experience than some of the guys in the room, so I want to lean on coach [John] Hynes and some of the other veteran players to help me be that player."
Subban said he believes the Devils could be contending for the Stanley Cup in the not-so-distant future. It's a trophy that has eluded him since entering the NHL with the Canadiens in 2009-10, a fact that does weigh on him.
"The Devils have a winning history and I look forward to working with coach Hynes to become a better player, help this team become a better team and ultimately to get to our goal of winning a championship," Subban said.
Video: MIC'D | Subban's First Skate in Jersey
Subban had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 63 games for the Predators last season; he missed 19 games from Nov. 15-Dec. 27 with a lower-body injury. At 0.49, it was his fewest points per game since 2011-12 with the Canadiens (0.44). He has 408 points (98 goals, 310 assists) in 645 regular-season games and 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists) in 96 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He won the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL in 2013 and was a finalist in 2015 and 2018. Subban played for the Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, a six-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final for the Canadiens, a six-game loss to the New York Rangers.
Hynes said Subban immediately gives the Devils a top right-shot defenseman capable of playing big minutes and in any situation.
"He's a player we're going to rely upon to play against the other team's top lines and we see him playing on the power play and killing penalties," Hynes said. "Coming into the offseason we felt our defense corps needed someone who could come in and play and help, someone who knows how to manage themselves in situations on the road against tough matchups, someone that can really drive the play for us and P.K. fits the style."
Subban is scheduled to return to Toronto to continue his offseason training Friday.
Selected by Montreal in the second round (No. 43) of the 2007 NHL Draft, he made the NHL First All-Star Team twice (2012-13, 2014-15) and the Second All-Star Team once (2017-18), and won a gold medal with Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"The one thing I was excited about coming to New Jersey was the system they play with because it's about winning," Subban said. "It's not about how you win or how it looks. I'm 30 years old and want to win a Stanley Cup. I haven't won one yet. I've been to a Stanley Cup Final and have a ton of games in the playoffs, so I have that experience, and that's great, but I want a ring."
Photos courtesy: Jeff Auger/New Jersey Devils