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Subban makes Devils better, but 'needs to be hungry,' Weekes says

Analyst believes trade provides his friend chance 'to be the best he can be'

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

P.K. Subban should be thrilled knowing an opportunity exists with the New Jersey Devils to assert himself as one of the best defensemen in NHL history.

It's up to Subban to prove the best is yet to come, NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes said.

"I've told him numerous times, as a friend, that he has the potential to be a Hall of Fame player and also a Stanley Cup champion," Weekes said Tuesday, three days after Subban was traded to New Jersey by the Nashville Predators. "I think the biggest thing for P.K. is to be as healthy as he can be and have a great offseason, because when he's been at his best, he's in outstanding shape, so that needs to really be his priority this offseason.

"I think this move makes the Devils better, but he needs to be hungry, foaming at the mouth, to be the best he can be."

The Devils acquired Subban from the Predators for defensemen Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies, a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Video: Subban excited about trade to Devils

Subban, 30, has three seasons left on an eight-year, $72 million contract (average annual value of $9 million) he signed with the Montreal Canadiens on Aug. 2, 2014. He was traded to the Predators for defenseman Shea Weber on June 29, 2016.

Subban had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 63 games for the Predators this season; he missed 19 games from Nov. 17-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.

Video: Subban traded to Devils during Day 2 of draft

"Once you reach 30, everyone wants to look at you as you're on the way down," Subban said Sunday. "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 [an] 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."

Subban, who averaged 23:46 of ice time in three seasons with the Predators, won the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL in 2013 and was a finalist in 2015 and 2018. He 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.

Weekes said the addition of Subban could be huge for the Devils, particularly if he enters training camp with a chip on his shoulder.

"P.K. could give the Devils a little pop and personality," Weekes said. "I think they have a lot of great guys in the locker room, but a lot of those guys are chill guys. It's all different types of personalities. I think as long as he directs his energy in a way that's most ideal and conducive to what they're trying to do, it'll be great."

Devils coach John Hynes said Subban's enthusiasm on and off the ice is infectious. He's made an impact in every community where he has played and is one of the most marketable players in the NHL.

"He's passionate about life and about the game and an extreme competitor," Hynes said. "He's a good teammate and he plays and practices the right way. I enjoy the fact he has a dynamic personality and is big into the community. I think players need to be individuals. They have to conform into some certain team concepts in our culture, but for guys to be at their best, they need to be who they are, and that's certainly the case with P.K."

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