Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
In recent days the Vancouver Canucks have bolstered their prospect pool along the blue-line by signing Edmonton Oil Kings over-age defenseman Ashton Sautner and hot shot University of Maine defender Ben Hutton to entry-level contracts.
Sautner and Hutton join a a group of prospect defenders that also includes (depending on how you wish to define ‘prospect’) Frank Corrado, Adam Clendening, Andrey Pedan and Nikita Tryamkin. There are some intriguing names on that list, but this group would be an awful lot more interesting if the club could get Belleville Bulls defender Jordan Subban under contract.
Will they do so? Let’s look into the mechanics at play.
We’re fans of Subban here at Canucks Army, mostly because he’s the lone dynamic offensive talent on a woeful Belleville Bulls team.
Even though he’s a defenseman, Subban is the only 20-goal scorer on his team, leads his squad in total points and points per game, and is just one assist off the team lead in that category as well. We, along with most other fans, would like to see the Canucks get this kid under contract and try to develop him into something since he seems both very fun and good at hockey and we like good hockey players that are fun too.
Subban, now 20 at the tail end of his 19-year old season, lacks the size of his famous older brother, but the five-foot-nine defender has been a top offensive defenseman in major junior over the past three years.
A superficial glance at his counting statistics would suggest that Subban’s offensive production has sort of tailed off since his draft year, but he’s been playing on an offensively challenged, rebuilding Bulls club.
This is critical context when evaluating Subban’s performance statistically. For example, Belleville scored 228 goals in Subban’s draft year and he racked up 52 points (so he was in on 22.8 percent of his club’s goals). This year they’ve scored 192 goals with three game remaining and Subban has managed 47 points (24.5 percent of his club’s goals).
To put it simply, Subban has been a relatively larger offensive contributor for Belleville this season than he was in his draft year, despite his flat-lining raw counting statistics.
Drafted in the fourth-round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft – the same draft in which the Canucks selected the likes of Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat and Cole Cassels – Subban is by definition on the Canucks’ 90-man reserve list as an “Undrafted Free Agent.”
The important thing to note here though is that the Canucks’ exclusive negotiating window with Subban is about to close. The Canucks have until June 1, 2015 to reach an agreement with Subban on a three-year entry level contract, or else he’ll be re-entered into the 2015 NHL draft.
Based on how the two sides have spoken recently though, it doesn’t seem like they intend to let it get to that point.
Will it get done?
Canucks general manager Jim Benning sure seems to think so.
“Once his season (is) finished we’ll get to Jordan,” Benning said during an appearance on TSN 1040 in late February. “He’s had a real good season, we’re going to get him signed.”
It doesn’t get much more definitive than “we’re going to get him signed,” especially when that statement is paired with a ‘real good’.
Subban has publicly said similarly positive things about coming to an agreement with the Canucks before the June 1 deadline also. From a recent interview with Canucks.com:
“From my understanding, I believe it will get done,” Subban said. “During the season I don’t like to be involved in that stuff, I let my agent handle it, and from talks with him, it sounds like it’s going to get done.”
So what’s next?
If the Canucks do get Subban’s autograph onto an entry-level contract, it’s most likely that the deal will start at the beginning of the 2015-16 league year. Subban could, once the Bulls’ season is over – and they will qualify for at least the first round of the OHL playoffs – sign an amateur tryout agreement with the Utica Comets, and even compete in the Calder Cup playoffs.
The recent additions of both Sautner and Hutton will not affect Vancouver’s ability to sign the young defender. Particularly with Subban’s deal likely to start at the beginning of the 2015-16 league year, the Canucks easily have enough space under the 50-contract limit with a number of players coming off the books this summer.
There’s been a good deal of worry and speculation about Subban’s future with the Canucks and whether or not the club will sign him. Though the deadline to get him signed is only two months away, in the world of ‘haggling over a contract ,the terms of which are pretty much already dictated by the terms of the CBA’ that’s eons.
There’s really no pressure point on the immediate horizon here and from the two sides’ public comments, it sure seems like a deal will get done once Subban’s OHL season ends.