For the first time in his NHL career, former Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban is testing the unrestricted free agent market. While a return to the Canadiens and the city he still loves seems unlikely, his longtime agent Don Meehan believes the 33-year-old rearguard will hook on with a team before the 2022-23 NHL regular season begins in October.
According to Meehan, NHL teams have and are interested in Subban’s services but so many teams are up against the salary cap right now and too busy trying to find cap space rather than bringing on salaries.
“P.K. just came back from vacation and I talked to him today about the free-agency marketplace and I’ve indicated to him that we’ve had expressions of interest,” Meehan told the Montreal Gazette Friday. “I’ve told him that there are teams moving money — assessing what kind of cap space they have, analyzing their depth scenarios to determine just exactly what they can do. Some of these issues are in play as we speak, so I can’t get a definitive response from some teams in terms of moving ahead, but I have had expressions of interest for him to date. But the teams that have expressed interest aren’t in a position to contract now because they’ve got other things in play.”
It should be noted that after the Gazette interview with Meehan was posted Friday night, and NHL source close to Subban indicated to Montreal Hockey Now, that the Montreal Canadiens were not one of the teams that has expressed interest in signing Subban.
P.K. Subban scored five goals and had 17 assists in 71 games for the New Jersey Devils in the final year of an eight-year contract he signed with the Montreal Canadiens in 2013 that carried a $9 million salary cap hit. Just two seasons into that contract, the Canadiens shocked the NHL world and traded Subban to the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenceman Shea Weber. Weber would go on to become the captain of the Canadiens prior to the 2018-19 season and was recently traded to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Evgenii Dadonov on June 16. Subban wound up playing three seasons for the Predators before being dealt to the Devils at the 2019 NHL Draft.
Subban is now hoping to find the right fit on the UFA market and is willing to be patient for that fit to come along.
“He wants to play, I can tell you that,” Meehan said. “But I think at this stage in his career he would want to play somewhere that would provide a good opportunity for him. Without sounding too aggressive, I think he’s earned the privilege to be somewhat selective in terms of where he would play so that it works for the team and it works for him. In other words, he doesn’t just want to play anywhere. He has that measure of independence.
I think based on his play recently with New Jersey and all of the positive comments that (Devils GM) Tommy Fitzgerald has made about his play and his support for his teammates and his likability by his teammates. The way he contributed this year, I think he played effectively. He’s not the P.K. of eight years ago, but then nobody is. But I think there’s a place for him that he can contribute to a team and contribute well on a positive basis.”
After being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2007 NHL Draft, Subban went on to become an instant fan favourite in Montreal and a superstar defenceman, winning the Norris Trophy in 2013. The Toronto native has 115 goals and 352 assists in 834 games in the NHL.