Is Malcolm Subban Canada’s Next Great Goaltender?

Will Subban backstop Canada to WJC gold? (OHL Images)

Malcolm Subban is someone who is used to pressure and not afraid of the spotlight.

A Rexdale native and younger brother of the Canadiens P.K., the Belleville Bulls stopper is hoping he gets to follow in his brother’s footsteps and represent Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championships.

If you ask him, he’s ready for the challenge;

“When I put on a Belleville jersey, I’m representing Belleville,” he said. “When I put on a Canada jersey, I’m representing Belleville — and all of Canada.”

“I’m ready for it”

Considered the front-runner for the number one spot between the pipes, Subban will have some stiff competition in camp.  Other goaltenders who got the invite are, Laurent Brossoit (Edmonton, WHL), Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound, OHL) and Jake Paterson (Saginaw, OHL).

Binnington is making a case for himself in the OHL (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Reports indicate that Canada may take three goalies to Russia this time, in case of injury.  Otherwise they may not be able to get someone there in time if someone does go down.  Just making the team is not Subban’s goal, though, he wants to be the main man.

What’s interesting to note is that Canada hasn’t had a true number one guy in some time.  That’s not to say they haven’t had elite goaltenders wear the red and white, but in each of the last three years there has been a platoon situation.

Jake Allen/Martin Jones (2010), Olivier Roy/Mark Visentin (2011) and Mark Visentin/Scott Wedgewood (2012) all split time between the pipes.  More often than not this means neither of the goaltenders took hold of the job and ran with it, which was evidenced by those three years.

Unfortunately the goaltending recently has been marred by soft goals, late game collapses and generally underwhelming play.

Most experts consider the goaltending as the biggest question mark for Canada going into camp.  With NHL calibre forwards up front and impressive depth and pedigree on the blue line, that leaves the last line of defence somewhat of an unknown.

You have to go back to probably 2007 and Carey Price as the last true #1 goalie who went the distance for Canada.  Everyone remembers the tournament he put on, especially in defeating the USA in a shootout en route to a gold medal and tournament MVP honours.

Subban has certainly made a good case for himself to assume that role going into the selection camp.  He was the best goalie in the summer Canada-Russia Challenge, winning all of his starts and was also impressive in his play in the recent Subway Super Series.

Malcolm Subban OHL

Malcolm Subban (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

This is also not the first opportunity that Subban has had to play for Canada, aside from the summer challenge, he suited up for the 2011-2012 U18 squad where he appeared in 5 games with a 2.98 GAA and .913 S%.

While he has set himself up as the favourite going into camp, the other three will certainly have some say in that.

Brossoit got off to a bit of a slow start but is rolling now.  He was spectacular in his start in the Super Series in Vancouver and instrumental in backstopping the Oil Kings on their run to the Memorial Cup last year.

Binnington has been lights out so far this year in the OHL and putting up some dominant numbers.

Paterson has been very good for the Spirit over the last year and a half and was very impressive for them in last year’s playoffs.

All four played well in the Super Series and the fact that none have any WJC experience does level the playing field somewhat.

Subban is the most physically and naturally talented of the group.  He has outstanding athleticism and agility and has the ability to steal games.  He’s also an intense competitor and very focused.  Traits that everyone looks for in a top goaltender.

He will remind many fans of another athletic former WJC goaltender for Canada, in Marc-Andre-Fleury.  Also someone who Subban patterns his game after.

There is a good chance that Subban is a lock to make the squad, based on his track record, physical tools and pedigree.  The question is, will he go as an undisputed starter, or along for the ride as a number two or three.

He certainly has the ability to go over to Russia and go on a Carey Price-esque run.  Subban has the physical tools, mental fortitude and charisma to not only be the next great Canadian goaltender, but a fan favourite as well, the Bruins certainly thought so when they took him in the 1st round. However, one thing at a time.

Next up…..make the team.

*click here for Subban’s draft prospect profile

Carl Maloney

THW Edmonton Oilers Contributor


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