Belleville Bulls goaltender Malcolm SubbanMalcolm Subban is anxious to show he can carry a team for the long haul rather than be hot in spots.
The Belleville Bulls goalie, the middle of three brothers in one of Canada's most famous hockey families, is the best goaltending prospect in Canada thanks to how he's expanded on his dexterity and reflexes. However, Subban recognizes that the nagging injuries he's battled this season — an ankle in the fall and a pulled groin suffered in one of the Bulls' first post-Christmas practices — have raised questions about his durability. That's why the 18-year-old, who didn't become a goalie until he was 12, is not so focused on the fact he leads the Ontario Hockey League in two of three major goaltending categories. Adding to his team's win count and helping the youngish Bulls (26-25-1-0) become a tough out by playoff time would mean a lot for him.
"When your team isn't faring well and you want to get back as quick as possible, that's the biggest thing, you can't rush back from your injury," Subban said Sunday prior to a blowout loss in Ottawa in which he got a mercy pull. "It doesn't mean anything if you're not getting wins, I have a real good goals-against average [2.06], but I can give up two goals and if we lose 2-1, it doesn't matter. You have to get the win. So that's what I focus on, trying to give my team a chance to win. When you're focused on your stats, you're not focusing the game.
"I know [the league-leading London Knights'] Michael Houser's doing a great job this year, he has 38 wins, but he's like sixth in average. Just got to help your team get the wins."
There is an excellent chance Subban could be the first goaltender drafted in June, quite possibly in the first round. The Rexdale, Ont., native has statistically been the best in the OHL with a 2.06 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, albeit it only 23 games due to injury. The Bulls are vastly stronger with him (16-7-0-0, .696 point percentage) than when he's been injured or rested (10-18-1-0, .362).
There was a groundswell of support in November for Subban, whose elder brother P.K. Subban won two world junior gold medals before moving on to the Montreal Canadiens, to be invited to Canada's national junior selection camp. Ultimately, older OHLers Mark Visentin and Scott Wedgewood were given the call to wear the Maple Leaf. Neither became a saviour, although the wisdom of the picks might yet be borne out. Visentin, with a 2.12 and .921 rate stats, could overtake Subban for best average and save percentage by season's end.
"It wasn't my turn yet," said Subban, whose 16-year-old brother Jordan is a rookie defenceman for Belleville. "They picked them for a reason. They're both real great goaltenders, both drafted to the NHL, I'm really high on both of them. I hope I'll have my shot next year. At the same time, there's great goaltenders coming up, I know I have to work hard. I have a late birthday, so that kind of helps me a bit. I just have to keep focusing on my game and do what I did in November and hopefully bring that into next season
Read More »from Draft tracker: 5 questions with Malcolm Subban, Belleville Bulls