"This affects everybody in the sports world, anybody that has a heart," Subban said. "He touched a lot of lives, he's touching more now. ... All you want to do is pray for the family and you hope that Vanessa and the kids and everyone stays strong."
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Subban said he wasn't overly close with Bryant, but the two were friends, and he leaned on the five-time NBA champion for advice and inspiration.
"I'm just very happy to have had that type of relationship with him," Subban said. "I wasn't best friends with Kobe or anything like that, but I'm sure you can understand the impact of just being able to feel like you can touch him and connect with him. He was that big."
Subban advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 as a member of the Nashville Predators. During the series, he says he regularly communicated with Bryant.
"When I was at his last game against the Celtics, I connected with him and told him that I wanted to look (at) him for some advice throughout my career," he said. "I ended up going to the Stanley Cup Finals and was in touch with him throughout the whole final."
He added, "When I dream about playing in big games and wanting to make a difference, all that comes from him."
Subban was traded to the Devils this past summer. He's posted six goals and five assists across 48 games in his first season in New Jersey.