Coming in at seventh in our consensus rankings is Jordan Subban. The 2013 fourth rounder made his professional hockey debut in the AHL this past season.
Subban had an illustrious OHL career where he registered 165 points in 253 games, including being a nearly point-per-game defender for the last three seasons he played in Belleville. He also brings a much-needed offensive punch to the Canucks’ prospect pool. He possesses great puck-moving and playmaking abilities combined with an excellent shot that he is not afraid to fire off. His offensive upside is massive, and something that is very valuable to the organization moving forward.
The biggest knock on the youngest of the Subban brothers has always been his size. At 5’9″, Subban is much shorter than the average NHLer. In a position that has traditionally favoured taller players, there was a concern of whether or not Subban could translate his game to the pro level. When he is on the ice, Subban will be battling against players significantly bigger than him which could cause some issues in the defensive end. A lot of those concerns were put to rest this past season after Subban was able to put up excellent numbers as a rookie in the AHL.
Subban appeared in 67 games with the Utica Comets, averaging just under an estimated 19 minutes of ice time per game. His 11 goals and 25 assists made him the highest scoring blueliner for the Comets, the 18th highest scoring AHL defensemen, and sixth highest scoring rookie blueliner. Being able to translate his offensive game immediately bodes well for Subban’s success moving forward. It should also be mentioned that 22 of Subban’s 36 points came at even strength. In an era where goals are harder to come by, players who can create offense (especially at even strength) are a highly valuable commodity.
Given his production, pGPS shines a favourable light on Subban. Four out of the nine statistical comparables for Subban went on to carve out successful NHL careers, including Ryan Ellis and Jared Spurgeon. Also, pGPS paints a picture on just how rare of a player Jordan Subban is. There are very few players who are his size that put up the same numbers. All but one player went on to get at least a taste of the NHL too, which is another positive for Subban.
There is reason to be slightly concerned about the defensive side of his game. When looking at even strength goals for and against, Subban was on the ice for 51 goals for and 52 goals against. While 52 goals are alarming at first, Subban was also on the ice for 51 goals for, which likely points to the fact that he is was a high-event player. Also, for a player in their first year of professional hockey, these totals are very respectable. Being able to trade goals evenly at even strength should favour Subban because he can make an impact on the powerplay given his skills and give his team an overall advantage there. As Subban grows and adapts to the AHL, his goals against totals should go down.
Former Canucks Army Managing Editor Rhys Jessop had a terrific piece on Jordan Subban last year, and many of the sentiments hold true to today. In being able to carry over his offensive success from the OHL to the AHL, it further supports the idea that Subban has the talent to be a player in the NHL but does not guarantee it. Also, while he is shorter than most, it will ultimately come down to him being talented enough to make it as an everyday NHLer.
Looking ahead the upcoming season, it is likely that Subban will be in Utica as a key figure on Utica’s blue line. It is less likely that Subban is called up over the course of the season due to him being further down the Canucks’ depth chart. Above him are Nikita Tryamkin and Andrey Pedan, the latter of whom will have difficulty cracking the Canucks’ line up this year. There is an outside chance that Subban gets a look in the NHL this year if there is an injury plague for the Canucks this year, but given the depth above him on the blue line, it is unlikely.
With an increased role in Utica, Subban should be able to work on improving his defensive game under head coach Travis Green. In a previous interview, Green mentioned that he was impressed with Subban’s offensive abilities as well as his improvements over the course of the season, but also that, due to his size, Subban will have to perfect some of his game to play in the NHL.
Overall, the Canucks have themselves an excellent prospect in Jordan Subban. There are a lot of factors that point towards Jordan Subban being able to become an NHL player at some point in his career. Should he continue to improve defensively while maintaining his offensive totals from last year, Subban could be finding himself in a Canucks jersey sooner rather than later.