VANCOUVER -- The Nashville Predators saved $9 million in cap space for each of the next three seasons when they traded defenseman P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, and they are in no rush to spend it.
"Today, I just cleared the space and I don't feel like tonight I just want to give it back," general manager David Poile said after the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. "They say cash is king and the Predators, for lot of years, have operated from that position."
Subban, who had played the past three seasons in Nashville after being traded from the Montreal Canadiens on June 29, 2016, was traded to the Devils for defensemen Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies, a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Predators traded their second-round pick this year (No. 34) to the Philadelphia Flyers for the No. 45 pick and No. 65 pick.
[RELATED: Subban traded to Devils by Predators | 2019-20 NHL Trade Tracker]
The Devils will assume all of the $27 million the three-time all-star defenseman and 2013 Norris Trophy winner is owed through the 2021-22 season from the eight-year, $72 million contract (average annual value of $9 million) he signed with the Montreal Canadiens on Aug. 2, 2014.
Poile said that was a big factor in New Jersey becoming Subban's eventual landing spot.
"I talked to some other teams and to be honest, some of the components were salary retention," said Poile, who estimated he had serious trade talks with three other teams for Subban. "All the deals were different in terms of trades and getting different things back, this clearly was the deal that allowed us to save the most and create the most cap space."
Video: Subban traded to Devils during Day 2 of draft
Poile, who characterized the Predators salary-cap situation as "uncomfortable" before the Subban trade, said he will enter the eight days ahead of the start of free agency July 1 with an open mind.
"I want to see what this week brings, and we're going to explore some different things for sure," Poile said. "We're going to be talking to some people on free agency, but no promises, no commitment, no exact goals. We'll see what happens."
Pending unrestricted free agent forwards Wayne Simmonds, Zac Rinaldo and Cody McLeod likely will not be back with the Predators, said Poile, who did express interest in keeping forward Brian Boyle, another pending UFA.
"I don't know if that's going to work out," Poile said of Boyle, who came to Nashville in a trade with the Devils on Feb. 6. "Brian was very good for us. A great person. If I can find a way to bring him back … we have time for that."
With Subban gone, the Predators have $13.7 million in space available under the 2019-20 salary cap, which was set at $81.5 million Saturday. They have two pending restricted free agents in forward Colton Sissons, who scored 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) this season, and forward Rocco Grimaldi, who had 13 points (five goals, eight assists).
Video: Subban excited about trade to Devils
Poile said getting Subban's salary off the books would not expedite a possible new contract for defenseman Roman Josi, who will make $4 million this season and can become an unrestricted free agent after next season.
"We could've probably gone through this year with not [trading Subban], we were pretty well cap compliant, but I wanted to get on it," Poile said. "I wanted to do it if I could. I feel more comfortable where we are right now. I know we've taken a good player off our team, so I can't sit here and say we're a better team for doing that."
The potential displayed by defenseman Dante Fabbro, who appeared in four regular-season games and six Stanley Cup Playoff games this season, made it easier to deal Subban, Poile said, but he did admit this was not an easy move to make.
"It's kind of disappointing to have to trade him," Poile said. "Having said that, in this day and age there are certain things that happen and need to happen in a cap era and our team was trending in a certain way with our contracts and we needed to make some decisions going forward, and that's what we did today."
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