Canucks Subban on Young Stars: ‘there is no time to ease in’

Jordan Subban is no stranger to the Young Stars tournament. Now 21, the flashy defenseman who led the Utica Comets defence corps in scoring as a rookie last season is heading to his fourth prospects showcase with the Vancouver Canucks this weekend in Penticton. He’s hoping to put his years of experience to good use to make an immediate impression on the coaching staff and management.

“There is no time to ease in,” Subban says of being ready from the drop of the puck if he’s in the line-up for the first game on Friday night against Edmonton’s prospects. “From that first shift, you know everyone is going hard, and everyone has something to prove. You have to be ready mentally. Everyone’s had a great summer and is ready physically, so you have to be ready mentally.”

Subban will be among the leaders of this young group of Canucks hopefuls, and he’ll also share the spotlight with June’s top draft pick Olli Juolevi and highly-touted goaltending prospect Thatcher Demko. Expectations should be high for a player who’s battled through this level on multiple occasions.

The fourth round pick in the 2013 National Hockey League draft hopes to help his team win this weekend, but also has designs on setting himself apart with his performance. He wants the games in Penticton to serve as a springboard to the main camp the following weekend in Whistler and beyond.

“Everyone’s competitive, so you want to win,” he says. “But you want to play well and show you’ve had a good summer. Everyone has their year-end meetings and you want to show that you’ve taken what they told you and progressed over the summer.”

Listed at 5’9” and 178 pounds, the Rexdale, Ontario native made a relatively smooth transition to the professional game last season after four solid years in junior. Subban scored 11 goals and added 25 assists while generating 143 shots in 67 games in Utica. He credits Comets assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner with helping make the jump from junior but admits it wasn’t as simple as it may have seemed to some.

“Pro is a different game and it took me 15 or 20 games to really figure it out and get comfortable,” Subban says. “It’s great that I led our D in points last year, but for me it’s always been about focusing on the defensive side of the game. The offensive side has always been there. The game is changing a lot and you’re seeing more and more smaller defensemen. My size has never held me back or limited me. People are always going to bring that up and say those things, but I work hard and I’m a strong guy. It was never an issue last season.”

Two years ago, Subban not only had the chance to suit up in NHL preseason action but scored a goal in his Canucks exhibition debut. Last season, however, he was among the early cuts from camp and didn’t get the opportunity to play any preseason games. This time around, with a year of pro hockey under his belt, he’s hoping to earn a much longer audition with the Canucks.

Well aware of the names ahead of him on the Canucks defensive depth chart, Subban has virtually no chance to make the hockey club out of training camp. Then again, the same things were said about Ben Hutton a year ago. The Canucks appear deeper on defence now than they were just 12 months ago, so it’s unlikely that Subban can do enough to convince the club to keep him. But a solid showing in Penticton and Whistler and a chance to audition in the preseason could put Subban on the team’s radar at some point throughout the season.

“Obviously, opportunities are things you have to earn and when they’re given you have to take advantage of them,” he says. “If you’re not given a certain opportunity, there’s no sense fussing over it. Just work hard for the next one and when you get it, make the most out of it. Last year, I was down in Utica and my goal there was to develop and get better. I thought I was given a great opportunity and I think I did those things. This year, hopefully, it won’t be a call-up. Hopefully, I can just make it and stick.”

Getting to the NHL remains a steep hill for Jordan Subban to climb, but he believes he can get there – and soon. The trek begins again this weekend in the South Okanagan, where he wants to be – and based on his experience should be – among the best players in the Young Stars tournament.

  • I wish him well. Hope he makes it.

    For Jordan to make the big show, he has to out work, and out perform Larsen. 3rd pairing right side puck mover, point producer, and power play specialist. If Larsen doesn’t work out or gets injured, that will be Jordans opportunity. So, most likely a call up for young Jordan Subban.

    • Olands

      I think the most important thing for Subban, especially in this prospects game, will be to show that he can dominate on defense.

      It’s probably tempting for him to show off his dangles against inferior opposition, winding his way through the other team to rip a shot on net. But one false move, leading to an odd man rush or a goal going the other way would reflect very badly on him. Management will be looking for him to make safer plays that reflect a pro mentality, and to prioritize the defensive side of the puck.

      A successful tournament and preseason will not be measured on the scoreboard. It will be measured by his ability to show a dedication to playing a complete game. If he makes a few smart, flashy plays along the way, that’s great, but it’s not what is going to define his progress as a player.

  • LTFan

    Subban could be the sleeper at this year’s Prospects tournament. Just about everyone doesn’t have him making the team. He seems to have the speed and moves the puck well. He is a right hand shot.

    If he is going to make it with this organization then it is this year. Maybe he won’t make it out of training camp but he should be given the opportunity to play some exhibition games. If he is not on the Canucks roster I see him as one of the first call ups if / when a defence man on the roster is injured.

  • Olands

    back up bob is right. I don’t know about Larsen. If he can develop more this year, that could be the spot that Subban finds himself in come next. I don’t see the point in rushing him, but I am not going to have much patience for Larsen. I would probably rather see Stecher getting his time if he shows he’s ready in camp.

  • wojohowitz

    Considering the low point totals of the defencemen from last year the Canucks really need at least one D-man who can contribute offensively. Tanev is excellent in his own end but not really an offensive D-man. Larsen may be good on the PP but can he handle his own zone. Stecher might be an earlier call-up with his skill set if he shows he can adjust quickly to the pro game but Subban has what the Canucks need this coming season as a guy who can put points on the board. Big solid defencemen they have in Edler, Gudbranson, Tryamkin and Pedan but none of them are good for forty points.

  • Bob Long

    This won’t be a popular opinion, but I see this going the same way Shinkaruk did. Subban if he has a good season, will more then likely be traded for some offensive prospect, as we seem to be so heavy on defense, defensive depth, and defensive prospects. He might very we’ll be our most “tradeable” asset if he continues to improve.

    I’m not saying we should trade Subban, in fact I really hope we keep him, but I get the sneaking suspicion that Benning just doesn’t see him as an NHL player and if his value get’s high enough Benning will move him for a forward slightly further along in his development.

  • wojohowitz

    One of the tedious things about supporting a rebuilding team is the constant hyper-ventilating of many fans for “insert prospect here” to make the starting roster NOW!!!

    There is nothing wrong with a player like Jordan Subban spending two or three full seasons in the AHL before graduating to the ranks of full-time NHL player. Sure, they may be some cups of coffee along the way, but this kid is not a first round draft pick. The fact that he was drafted does not hang over GMJB like the Sword of Damocles.

    Let me use the example of well regarded Detroit forward Gustav Nyquist. He spent three years at the University of Maine before spending almost a full season with the Grand Rapid Griffins, with a cup of coffee in the NHL before finally breaking into Detroit’s line-up full time.

    Tomas Tatar spent three full seasons in Grand Rapids, before making the Red Wings. I hear he’s a pretty good player too.

    This obsession with graduating players to the Vancouver Canucks full-time roster after a single AHL professional season makes no damn sense, particularly for mid and late round draft picks.

    • Dirty30

      Well said.

      He is only 21 years old, and has 3-4 years where he could develop into an exceptional puck-moving D-man with some offensive upside.

      If 3-3 continues as part of the game, and more smaller forwards become prevalent in the league, Subban’s size and speed may actually become an asset in chasing down those speedy forwards.

      This likely isn’t his year with the Canucks, but that’s not a bad thing at this point either.

  • wojohowitz

    Subban`s status also brings up another question about the Canucks defence. Is Edler still a top pairing defenceman? He has taken some very cheap shots over the years resulting in back and rib injuries. He can only takes some much of getting run into the end boards wearing him down. Maybe that`s where Gudbranson comes in – playing those tough minutes against the other teams top lines and going after the cheap shot guys injuring our players. Edler just might have a bounce back season with Guddy in the lineup.

  • Dirty30

    I wonder what Subban’s actual weight is. Based on his weightlifting videos and his desired weight, will people really care about his height if he achieves his target weight of 200 lbs and has the strength to compete (though not the size leverage)? He’ll be a bulldog like Martin St. Louis.

    Here’s a new article from May 2015: When he was drafted, Subban said he was “about 170-175 pounds soaking wet.” He’s now up to 185, and that’s after losing about 10-15 pounds from a bout of pneumonia earlier this season…”My body is starting to get a little thicker,” Subban said. “I will definitely be over 190 pounds by the (fall). Probably 195. I want to play there or at 200 pounds.

    • Bob Long

      If he can get to 195 of solid muscle, thats actually great. He’s going to be the puck moving partner, and at that playing weight he’ll be able to handle himself just fine. His other partner – I’m hoping Tryamkin – will be the crush ’em type.

  • wojohowitz

    At a good weight he will be able to handle himself, but his reach will always be at a comparative disadvantage. He will have to use what he’s got, speed, hockey smarts, and good positioning to make up for that. Force the offense to make plays on his terms and such when defending.

  • wojohowitz

    I agree on the slow and steady AHL approach. I hope Virtanen spends the coming year in Utica . Anyone else see a possible new position for a small great skating offensive D in a 2-1-2 formation ?

  • crofton

    I do not think he will be able to crack the lineup at the Canucks. He is not his brother, not very big and not able to live up to the hype people are giving him.
    Is a good addition to the Comets if another team thought he was good enough for the NHL he would have been traded long ago, no where near making Canucks not even for a call up.

    • crofton

      And yet his brother says Jordan is better than him, and his offensive numbers seem to support that. There have been many many `not very big`players to make the NHL and have successful careers, and if he plays at 5`9`and 195-200, he could be a force. If he doesn`t crack the Canucks`lineup, it will be because others like Pedan, Tryamkin, and Larsen have played really well.

    • crofton

      Can you explain how he’s not living up to “hype” when he lead the OHL in goal-scoring by a defenceman and then lead the Utica D in points as a rookie? Conversely, what would he need to do to “live up to the hype”?

  • crofton

    the fact that he is on the Canucks farm team not the NHL club is proof enough for me that he isn’t going to make the Canucks or be the star as some believe he will be. This is my opinion you may have yours that is fine, but the fact that he was not considered as a call up last year when the Canucks were going through a tough time is also evidence in my opinion that he won’t make the Canucks.
    I wish that he was better than his brother but at this time he is not.
    We went through the same thing with Korea’s brother as well as Fedorov’s brother same hype they were better than their brother.