The Malcolm Subban era in Boston is over. The Vegas Golden Knights picked up the Boston Bruins goaltending prospect off of waivers on Tuesday.
It all began with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Boston Bruins former general manager, Peter Chiarelli decided to select the 6-foot-2-inch goaltender in the hopes that he would be groomed as a backup and then one day become Tuukka Rask’s replacement.
Rask was 25 years old in 2012 and shared the crease with Tim Thomas. He made just 23 appearances during the 2011-12 season, a year that marked Thomas’ last in a Bruins sweater. During the abbreviated season that followed, No. 40 led the B’s to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In retrospect, selecting Subban made little sense. While Boston was right to bolster their goaltending prospect pool in some capacity, doing so in the first round was mind-boggling. This was a year when the Bruins could have used more depth at almost any skating position.
Chiarelli’s decision to draft Subban was a gamble: if he became a star like his brother, P.K., Boston would have two starting goaltenders, like they had with Thomas and Rask. Either Subban or Rask could even be traded for early picks or solid players. If he didn’t pan out, it would be a waste of a pick. In no way were the Bruins desperate enough to take a goalie in the first round.
Subban an OHL Stud
Subban played an impressive three seasons with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL. The Toronto-native tallied 64 wins and 42 losses in 117 total appearances. Better yet, was the steady escalation in the prospect’s save percentage (S%). What started at .900 during the 2010-11 season grew into a .934 S% by the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
His goals-against average (GAA) plummeted at an even more astounding rate: with a 3.16 GAA before knocking it down to 2.14 at the commencement of his OHL career.
Even more impressive is the fact that Subban was able to improve his stats while appearing in more games every season. He played in 46 games during his final season in Belleville compared to just 32 during the 2010-11 campaign. Both his save percentage and goals against average were the best in the OHL during the 2012-13 season, signaling that it was time for the goaltender to play within an NHL organization.
At the junior level, Subban was a force while his older brother was enjoying success with the Montreal Canadiens, making Malcolm an even more attractive prospect. As a result, expectations for Subban were pretty high. No one can say they saw his fall coming but come it certainly did.
Subban’s Struggles With the Bruins
Subban appeared in 33 games to start his AHL career during the 2013-14 campaign with the Providence Bruins. Featuring a record of 15-10-5 that season, the then-20-year-old managed a .920 S% and a 2.31 GAA, allowing just 74 goals.
While he was able to hold his own in the AHL, he seemed to fall apart whenever he put on the spoked-B. In just two regular season NHL games, Subban gave up six goals en route to a 5.81 GAA and a .831 S%. He did not complete either game, only tallying 31 minutes each night.
Since his two NHL appearances, many have deemed Subban a flop.
The now-23-year-old’s struggles continued during the 2017 preseason. Though he posted a 2-0 record and 2.71 GAA through four appearances, he failed to separate himself from other members of the herd: Zane McIntyre and Anton Khudobin. His low note came at the beginning of the second period of Boston’s first preseason game against the Canadiens when he was scored on twice and replaced by McIntyre.
Meanwhile, Khudobin was able to solidify himself as the team’s backup goaltender going forward. After stumbling through the beginning of last season, he bolstered his play once coach Bruce Cassidy took the helm. McIntyre, on the other hand, was delegated to Providence early after a solid performance. It is expected that he will share the net with another up-and-coming goaltender in Daniel Vladar this season.
That left one question: what do you do with Subban?
On Tuesday, GM Don Sweeney answered that question by placing him waivers. Failing to clear, Subban will join the Golden Knights in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the end, the Bruins aren’t losing much. The only downside to losing Subban is that nothing was gained in return or worse is that he is now just one of a slew of first-round picks from the Chiarelli era that is no longer with the team.
I cover the Boston Bruins and NCAA Hockey here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised 10 miles north of Boston, I developed a love for the game of ice hockey at a very young age. There’s really nothing better than this sport, though steak is a close second.