VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The first day of the NHL Draft ended with no first-round trades being made involving players for the first time since 2005. Day 2 was different.
Three significant trades were announced on Saturday at Rogers Arena, the most notable being the Devils acquiring all-star defenseman and personality P.K. Subban from the Predators a day after selecting American-born center Jack Hughes with the first overall pick.
The Maple Leafs also traded Patrick Marleau to the Hurricanes, potentially clearing enough cap space to re-sign restricted free agent Mitchell Marner, and the Lightning alleviated some of their cap crunch by sending ex-Ranger J.T. Miller to the Canucks.
“It’s two good days for us,” Devils general manager Ray Shero said. “We’ve added some marquee and talent to our team.”
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association finally announced on Saturday as the draft concluded the salary cap ceiling for 2019-20 will be $81.5 million, a smaller-than-anticipated rise of $2 million from last season.
The Devils still have a projected cap space of $25 million even after absorbing the final three seasons of his eight-year, $72-million deal he initially signed with the Canadiens in 2014.
Subban posted a video on his Instagram account asking Devils’ fans whether they were ready for “The Subbanator” and telling his puppy Lucy to get ready to move to New Jersey.
The Devils sent defensemen Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies, a second-round pick on Saturday and a second-round pick in 2020 to the Predators for Subban.
“Everybody has got moving parts,” said Shero, who said he’s been talking to Nashville GM David Poile for four days but went to bed on Friday not knowing if they had a deal. “You have to be prepared for the unexpected. This was something unexpected.”
“We appreciate P.K.’s contribution to the Predators and the Nashville community over the past three seasons,” Poile said in a release. “We had to make a business decision. With an aim at strengthening our forward corps this offseason, and the continued strength of our defensive group, we felt it was necessary to clear up salary cap space this way.”
The Devils are trying to entice former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall to re-sign a long-term extension as he has one season left on a seven-year, $42-million deal. He can sign a new deal starting on July 1 but Shero will likely have to move him if he feels no deal is possible.
“I talked to Taylor before,” Shero said. “He knows P.K. He was very supportive. I don’t know what we would have done if he was not.”
“They made a big trade, they acquired a good player,” Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said. “They’re trying to get better, like we are. That’s life in the Metro, too. We have a tough division and everyone’s trying to get better all the time.”
The Maple Leafs cleared $6.25 million in cap space by sending the final season of Marleau’s three-year, $18.75-million deal to the Hurricanes along with a conditional first-round pick in 2020 and a seventh-round pick in 2020 for a sixth-round pick in 2020.
That should help them re-sign Marner, who may be looking to match the $11 million annually the Maple Leafs gave ex-Islanders captain John Tavares last year. The Hurricanes want Marleau to play for them but he may insist on a buyout so he can finish his career with the Sharks.
The Lightning sent Miller, who has four seasons left on a five-year, $26.25-million deal, to Vancouver for a conditional first-round pick in 2020 or 2021, a third-round pick on Saturday and goalie Marek Mazanec.