June 22, 2012

Bruins grab goalie Malcolm Subban, fuel rivalry with Habs

By Kirk Luedeke

PITTSBURGH— Picking outside the top-10 for the first time since 2009, the Boston Bruins nevertheless added a player who is certain to fuel the already white-hot rivalry between the team and rival Montreal Canadiens with the selection of goaltender Malcolm Subban at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft on June 22. 

Boston selected Malcolm Subban 24th overall at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh on Friday night. (Getty Images)

“My goal from the start of the year was to go first round,” Subban told a throng of reporters who greeted him as he arrived in the interview area at Consol Energy Center, “especially coming out of the OHL. Coming into the OHL I was a pretty late pick and I never thought I would come this far.”

One word that best describes Subban is this: Athlete. At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Malcolm Subban has adequate size, but his flexibility, quickness and strength rate near the top of the class at any position. He comes from strong athletic stock, highlighted by his seemingly larger-than-life Habs All-Star defenseman for an older brother, a brother who has become Public Enemy No. 1 to the Boston faithful, but didn’t let that detract from the pride he felt for his younger sibling’s special moment.

“We had memories of a backyard rink,” a beaming P.K. Subban said afterwards. “We had tons of memories. That’s why I was so emotional, because we know what it took to get to this spot. Because, let’s face it—a lot of people work hard but not a lot of people get the privilege and honor of walking up on that stage.

“When you see your little brother do it—I never got to do it—it makes you feel really good.”

The younger Subban became the second goaltender taken in this draft class after Tampa Bay took Russian Andrey Vasilevski at the 19th spot. He is only the third-ever goaltender taken by the Bruins in the first round since 1969.

“At one point I probably wanted to play goalie too,” P.K. Subban said when asked about his brother’s switch to the position at age 12 after being a standout on defense and at forward. “Sometimes you’ve got to kind of wait and see, but he was persistent with it. That’s why we let him play, you know what I mean? Some kid that wants to try 18 million different things, and sometimes you’ve got to say ‘no,’ so let’s work at it and be good at it, and Malcolm did.”

Malcolm talked about his father, who coached him until about the age where he made the position change, resisting his son’s desire to put on the goalie gear. Older brother P.K. took it a step further by relating that before his dad agreed to let Malcolm stop pucks, he put the youngster in the driveway and had the older brother fire pucks at him.

That is part of the reason P.K. marvels today at how far his younger brother has come in a short time.

“He’s only been playing goalie for what—five, six years? Malcolm used to score goals, play defense—he did everything, man. It’s still a shame that he’s not a player. He was so good. Now, he’s one of the top goalies in the world.”

Mark Edwards of HockeyProspect.com is a solid supporter of Subban’s, having followed him throughout his OHL career and before.

“His athleticism is off the charts,” he told New England Hockey Journal. “Post-to-post, he’s very quick. He’s great at covering the bottom of the net. His weakness would be rebound control, but his athleticism right now is letting him recover to make second and third saves.”

One NHL scout based in Ontario offered a different view.

“That was high for me,” he said of Boston’s newest first-rounder. “I don’t like his glove (hand) but he is highly athletic.”

Edwards also added that nagging injuries dropped Subban in his rankings to late first round, but thought the Bruins got solid value and long-term potential. In 39 games with the Bulls, Subban posted a respectable .923 save percentage, so the best might be yet to come if he can stay healthy.

“The rivalry is about to begin,” a smiling Subban told a throng of reporters after the B’s made him the 24th overall selection and one asked about his older brother. “I don’t know if he’s going to like me too much. And to be honest, I never liked him that much.”

When apprised of his younger brother’s quote, the Canadiens defenseman had a quick reply:

 “Perfect, there you go—the boil is already bubbling,” the older brother said in response. “You guys got your storyline. Go ahead- run with it.”

It may be some time before young Subban is ready for NHL duty, and who knows? His older brother may not even be in Montreal when the goaltender’s time comes.

It all makes for an interesting family situation, both with teams and the Subban clan of Ontario.

Kirk Luedeke can be reached at kluedeke@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kluedeke29.