The name Subban could become a new bloodline in the NHL with the rise of the oldest brother P.K. and the potential surrounding the middle-child, Malcolm, in Boston. But what will be made of Jordan Subban?
The youngest of the three was drafted the latest (round four) and has the least amount of hype surrounding his potential career. The Vancouver Canucks saw something when they drafted him but recent moves have shown that Jim Benning and co. aren’t confident with the next generation of blue and green defencemen which has put Subban in the backseat.
Stepping out of His Brother’s Shadow
Since being drafted 115th overall in 2013, Jordan has always been compared to his oldest brother, P.K. Subban, despite being six years younger, three inches shorter, and 30 pounds lighter. He was even drafted to the same OHL team as P.K. In his first season with the Belleville Bulls, Jordan scored the same about of goals as P.K. (5) but added eight more assists. Their second seasons were also quite similar, with P.K. putting up 56 points compared to Jordan’s 51.
While their first two seasons were similar, it was in the third that P.K. took his play to a whole new level. He won an OHL championship with the Bulls in 2007, which led to a Memorial Cup birth. He became taller, stronger, and more of a leader on his team.
Jordan, on the other hand, did not hit a growth spurt and had to find a different way to stand out. While he never became a dominating force on the ice like his brother, his offensive skills grew and as he started to understand the game on a higher level he quickly became a lethal player with the puck, able to make the perfect breakout pass or create scoring chances from nothing.
His hallmark year for offense came in his final season with the Bulls where he scored 25 goals and added 27 assists. The 25 goals is a career high for the Ontario-native, as well as a milestone that his older brother P.K never achieved at any level of junior and has yet to achieve at the pro hockey level (he scored 18 with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2009).
Jordan’s transition to pro hockey was questioned because of his size; at 5’9, 185 pounds, he isn’t your prototypical defenseman. In fact, the only defencemen under 6’0 in the top 20 scorers from the 2015-16 NHL season were Tyson Barrie (49 points), Shayne Gostisbehere (46 points), and Tory Krug (44 points). Out of those three, Krug is the only one who comes in at the same height as Subban. The youngest brother threw up a respectable 11 goals and 36 points for the Utica Comets in his first year (3 goals and 12 assists on PP) but had a little trouble in his own end accumulating the 2nd worst plus/minus out of the nine defencemen on the team that played 10 games or more.
Navigating the Canucks’ Depth Chart
The Canucks defensive depth has been criticized over the past few years for not having any quality prospects with top four potential. However, in the past calendar year, Ben Hutton has surprisingly emerged from college ready to play at the NHL level, the massive Nikita Tryamkin has made his way over to North America, sought-after college free agent Troy Stecher signed with the team, Benning traded for 23-year-old Erik Gudbranson from Florida, and then drafted London Knights standout Olli Juolevi 5th overall.
A year ago, all of these players were behind Subban on the depth chart, or not even in the organization (aside from Tryamkin who wasn’t sure if/when he wanted to come to NA). Now, coming into the 2016-17 season, Subban has a heap of players ahead of him, many of which have already proven they can compete against other NHL caliber players.
Assuming that Elder, Tanev, and Gudbranson will be the Canucks top three blueliners coming into the season, that leaves the fourth and fifth spots, as well as a rotating sixth up for grabs. The leaders for those positions are obviously players that have already seen time with the big club – Hutton, Sbisa, Tryamkin, Biega, and Pedan. After the veterans, come the headline prospects, players either drafted high or big names coming out of college – Juolevi and Stecher, respectively. When it’s all said and done, the B and C level prospects will be given a chance to prove themselves, namely Subban.
When training camp starts, Subban will not be the tallest, the biggest, the fastest, or even the best in all three zones. The fact that he is right-handed isn’t even a rare commodity for the Canucks (Vancouver has five righties including Subban). He will need to rely on the grit and determination that has helped him this far to make it impossible for Jim Benning to send him to the minors.