Warning: this article contains no trade speculation, takes on the awesomeness/stupidity of tanking, or gossip on the involvement of the Aquilinis in Canucks’ operations.
Boring? We’ll see.
It does address the most pressing aspect of the team’s rebuild.
Vancouver’s goaltending is shored up for years with the Miller-Markstrom-Demko progression, and the forwards are pointed in the right direction with Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen, and Bo Horvat developing and
Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, and Brock Boeser on the way.
On defence, though, things appear as well planned as one of Kanye’s Twitter rants. The succession plan is heavily reliant on Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton and possibly Andre Pedan.
One enticing defensive prospect in the Canucks’ system, partly because his brother is known so well, is Jordan Subban.
“We’re obviously two different players,” said Jordan over the phone from Utica, on how he compares to P.K. “He’s bigger than me. He tends to use his size more to his advantage and I try and use my skill and my smarts more to my advantage.”
“In terms of our offence and the way we like to generate offence, I guess that’s all pretty similar.”
The idea that Jordan could score like his brother – who put up 60 points with Montreal two seasons ago – will have Canucks fans salivating.
And he’s a right shot too.
With 28 points in 43 games with the Utica Comets so far this season, Jordan has .66 pts/game – a clip close to P.K.’s .68 pts/game during his one year in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs. As for scoring in junior, Jordan’s 52 points in 63 games in his final year with the Belleville Bulls doesn’t live up to P.K.’s prolific 76 points in 56 games during his final year with the same team.
Speaking with Shane Malloy on his Hockey Prospects show last year, Canucks’ GM Jim Benning was high on Subban’s puck skills.
“The offensive side of his game is excellent,” said Benning.
“His ability to walk the blueline and change the angle, to kind of have a feel where the players are so he can get pucks through and on the net is a skill a lot of defencemen don’t have, and he possesses that.”
“His ability to jump up in the play off the rush and support the play – those are the strengths of his game.”
What Subban needs to work on, according to Benning, are his strength and his ability to battle defensively. Listed at 5’-9” and 175 lbs, Jordan is slighter than P.K.’s 6’-0” 210 lbs.
You might think having a brother who’s already accomplished so much in the NHL would put pressure on Jordan’s shoulders, but he says it’s not the case.
“It definitely helps having a brother who’s had as much success as him, whether it be at the international level with Team Canada or in the NHL,” says Subban.
“I get a lot of good advice from him, especially in the summer, just seeing how serious he takes it and what he does to prepare for the season.”
With Chris Higgins and Brandon Prust recently joining the Comets, and every name on the Canucks being mentioned in a trade rumour somewhere (even if it is only on Reddit or some moronic “insider” on Twitter), players in Utica are well aware of the opportunities opening up.
“Everyone kind of realizes the situation that’s going on in Vancouver right now,” says Subban. “Being a younger guy, it would be a great opportunity to get a chance to play in the NHL. Hopefully that’ll happen sooner than later.”
The only question remaining – is Subban ready to make the jump now, or does he believe he needs more time to develop?
“I think I’m confident in myself and confident in my game enough that if I’m given a chance to play, I’d figure it out and I’ll be able to play and do well,” says Subban.
“My mindset will never change. I’ll always have the confidence that I’m able to play in the NHL.”
With that level of confidence, perhaps
Shinkaruk, Gaunce, and Pedan shouldn’t be the only Comets Canucks fans are pushing to see called up this season.