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Subban has 'a lot of hockey left to give' for Devils

Defenseman relishing chance at bigger leadership role, first Stanley Cup title after trade from Predators

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

P.K. Subban will bring a lot to the New Jersey Devils.

The 30-year-old defenseman, who the Devils acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators on Saturday, has a personality as dynamic as his game. He's good friends with Devils forward Taylor Hall, who will enter the final season of his contract and is eligible to sign an extension July 1. Subban was also an active member of the community during his time with Nashville and the Montreal Canadiens.

But right now, Subban's focus is on one thing.

"Winning. Winning is the most important thing to me," Subban said Sunday. "It's not necessarily like I'm playing for a contract or I haven't had any individual accolades. I've been fortunate to have these things throughout my career. The most important thing has been to win a championship and I haven't had one yet."

 

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Subban had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 63 games for the Predators this season and missed 19 games from Nov. 17-Dec. 27 with a lower-body injury. He doesn't believe in a low or down season -- "I think there are challenging years," he said -- but he's always looking to prove himself and said right now, he's never felt better.

"Once you reach 30, everyone wants to look at you as you're on the way down," Subban said. "I have a lot of hockey left to give. Playing in Nashville, there were a lot of great defensemen there, so it's not always getting opportunity to play 26-27 minutes night or be on the power play, in all situations consistently. That can sometimes affect you as well as a player. In New Jersey, it'll be different situation, a different opportunity and I look forward to that, taking on more of a role and more of a leadership role."

It was a busy weekend for the Devils, who selected center Jack Hughes with the No. 1 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver the day before they acquired Subban, who won the Norris Trophy given to the best defenseman in the NHL in 2013 and was a finalist for the award in 2015 and 2018. New Jersey (31-41-10) was last in the Metropolitan Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference and eyes a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing them five of the past six seasons.

Subban is ready to be a part of it.

Video: Subban excited about trade to Devils

"It's always been tough to play against the Devils because they don't give you much," Subban said. "Even in the past few years, even when the Devils haven't maybe had the most talented players, they've been able to win because the players have shown a commitment to a system. The difference is now they have a lot of young, skilled high-end talent that's in the lineup that can make a difference when they play solid defense and transition to offense."

Subban is a key part of what the Devils want to accomplish on and off the ice. He carries a tremendous impact in the community, is one of the most marketable players in the NHL and all of that will continue to be evident during his time in New Jersey. But right now, getting that elusive Stanley Cup championship is foremost on his mind.

"There'll be opportunities to work with team off the ice, the community and all those things," said Subban, who played for the Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, a six-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. "It's a huge market, and obviously there are a lot of people there and the team has a great presence. But I don't think your focus as a hockey player or as an athlete can be anywhere else but how you want to impact your team on the ice, or on the field or on the court.

"I'm still a hockey player, I want to play another 8-10 years, hopefully. And in that term, obviously I'm going to have opportunities, marketing-wise, just like any other player would. But my focus is winning a championship, because there's lots of time for everything. I want to win, I want to be known as a winner and I want to do that in New Jersey."

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