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Fantasy spin: Subban trade impact on Devils

Defenseman should bounce back with exposure to Hall, Hughes, Palmieri on power play, rejoins top 10 rankings at position

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / NHL.com Fantasy Editor

NHL.com examines the fantasy hockey value of defenseman P.K. Subban with the New Jersey Devils and projects his statistics for 2019-20. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.

The New Jersey Devils acquired elite defenseman P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators on Saturday, significantly boosting their overall fantasy appeal next season. With the addition of Subban and center Jack Hughes, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Devils have a bright fantasy outlook for years to come.

Subban is an injury bounce-back candidate who should return to the top 10 defenseman rankings after scoring 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 63 games this season and three points (one goal, two assists) in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. It's worth noting Nashville had the worst power play in the NHL last season (12.9 percent), and Subban was playing in a logjam with valuable defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Hughes projection | Kakko | Trades, picks roundup

 

Subban has been an elite fantasy defenseman for most of his NHL career and ranks tied for sixth at the position in points per game since his rookie season in 2010-11 (minimum 500 games). He also ranks among the top 10 defensemen in goals (98; seventh), assists (308; ninth), points (406; sixth), power-play points (177; fourth) and shots on goal (1,595; sixth) in the span. He has three seasons remaining on an eight-year contract signed in 2014, giving him plenty of fantasy appeal in keeper and dynasty leagues despite his age (30).

He'll be the clear-cut No. 1 defenseman for the Devils, ahead of Damon Severson, Will Butcher and Sami Vatanen, and could flourish on New Jersey's power play, which features Hughes, elite left wing Taylor Hall (potential 2020 unrestricted free agent), valuable right wing Kyle Palmieri and center Nico Hischier. With a loaded top unit, it's feasible the Devils power play could finish among the 10 best in power-play percentage; they finished tied for ninth in 2017-18 (21.4) before taking a step back to 21st this season (17.7).

Subban has had at least 21 PPP in five of the past seven seasons, including a NHL career-high 26 in 42 games during the 2012-13 shortened season; he missed a combined 35 games in the two seasons where didn't reach that mark. If healthy, Subban could feasibly set a new career high in power-play points with the Devils next season.

 

[RELATED: Subban traded to Devils by Predators | Complete Fantasy Hockey coverage]

 

Palmieri is a key cog on the top power play who can help Subban have one of his best offensive seasons yet. Palmieri quietly ranks fourth among right wings with 41 power-play goals since 2015-16 behind Nikita Kucherov (49), Wayne Simmonds (45) and Patrik Laine (44). Hall, who led left wings with 37 power-play points in 2017-18 (won Hart Trophy), and Hughes, whom NHL.com has projected for 61 points (22 goals, 39 assists), can also fuel Subban's power-play resurgence.

Some of Subban's success depends on the health of New Jersey's top forwards, but he should see increased ice time from his 22:40 per game this season, the second lowest in a full season of his NHL career. He played at least 23 minutes per game in seven straight seasons (2011-12 to 2017-18) before missing 19 games this season because of injury.

Nashville had a much better defensive core than New Jersey does, but it's arguable the Devils now have more forward talent compared to the Predators. Including Subban, the Devils have five skaters with 60-point potential next season after only having seven players score that many over the past nine seasons.

But, unlike the Predators, the Devils have goalie questions with Cory Schneider struggling over the past three seasons and rookie Mackenzie Blackwood being an unproven option. If the Devils don't get consistent goaltending, it could negatively impact Subban's plus/minus; he was a combined plus-23 over the past two seasons with the Predators.

Regardless, fantasy owners should expect a return to elite status for Subban next season and view Hall, Hughes, Palmieri and Hischier as more valuable players for next season with Subban joining the offense.

Projection: 74 games, 14 goals, 45 assists, 59 points, minus-2, 27 PPP, 205 SOG, 75 Hits

Draft range in 12-team fantasy league: Rounds 5 to 6 (picks 49-72)

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