January 05 2017 02:52PM
The rosters for the American League All-Star Classic are out today, and the Comets have one player headed to Lehigh Valley to participate. Yes, every team needs to be included, just like in the NHL, but the Comets' contribution to the All-Star game is well deserving of the honour: Jordan Subban, second on the Comets in points, as a second-year defenceman no less.
This is the third consecutive year that the Comets will have a Canucks prospect representing them at the All-Star game, as Subban follows in the footsteps of Jacob Markstrom (who attended alongside teammates Cal O'Reilly and Bobby Sanguinetti in 2015) and Hunter Shinkaruk (the lone Comet in 2016). I think it's fair to say that Canucks fans are hoping that Subban continues following the path Markstrom has taken, rather than Shinkaruk, but nothing is guaranteed at this point.
Subban has been having a stellar year offensively, with his 20 points (in 29 games) ranking 10th among defencemen in the American League. The impressiveness of which is increased by the fact that the Comets are terrible offensively this season - Utica has scored just 74 goals this season, which is dead last in the AHL.
Additionally, Subban's eight goals rank fifth in the AHL, while his six power play goals are tied for first. His dominant offensive numbers are likely what gave him an edge of other potential options like Alex Grenier or Curtis Valk, who are putting up similar numbers, but are of course much farther done the rankings when compared to other forwards.
It's Subban's offensive numbers, combined with his young age, that give him such a high likelihood of projected success at the NHL level, with 71 percent of the players that fall into his statistical range (including his oft mentioned small stature) sticking in the NHL.
Of course, he's unlikely to get an opportunity in the NHL unless the Canucks and Comets coaching staff become satisfied with his play in his own zone.
Subban's offensive prowess also makes it easier to overlook his defensive lapses to an extent - certainly for the sake of a 3-on-3 hockey game with nothing on the line but bragging rights and the entertainment of fans. In the regular season, his penchant for egregious giveaways has regressed notably this season, though they still pop up from time to time. Perhaps the best thing that I can say about the improvement in Subban's defensive play at this point is that his giveaways seem to be occurring further from his own net than before, and thus leading to less direct goals against. That is progress.
Ironically, Subban hasn't had much success at 3-on-3 this season, but then again, few Comets have. Among the 11 defencemen that have suited up for the Comets this season, only Chad Billins has a point in 3-on-3 overtime (he has two in fact, both assists), meaning of course that Subban has zero.
Nevertheless, the game should provide some mild entertainment, and at least a chance to see Subban in an entirely offensive element, where fun is encouraged - Subban is definitely fun. As with the NHL last year (and this year), the AHL is constructing a division-based 3-on-3 tournament.
The four teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.
The All-Star Classic is set to take place on January 30th at 4:00pm Pacific.