PITTSBURGH Give the Bruins credit for their work leading up to Friday nights pick.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had told CSNNE.com prior to the first round that if he were a betting man that their pick would be a defenseman.
Furthermore, the Bruins had sent out whispers that Subban wasnt even their top goaltender of choice available in the draft.
In the end it was all subterfuge and Spy vs. Spy kind of stuff.
The Bs GM turned around and instead picked the best available Subban with the 24th overall pick at the NHL Draft at the CONSOL Energy Center. When Chiarelli made his way over to speak with the media to discuss his selection he couldnt help but toss along a quick one-liner to this humble hockey writer.
How is that for a storyline, Joe? asked Chiarelli, with a wry smile on his face.
Pretty good, Petepretty good.
Malcolm Subban is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound, 18-year-old goaltender rather than a defenseman like big brother P.K. Subban in Montreal, and Boston clearly was looking to shore up their goalie depth after the flight of Tim Thomas.
"We draft for the best player available, fit, need and then for the rivalries. That was on top of the list for this one, said a joking Chiarelli after making the selection before he got serious. Hes obviously a really good goalie. Hes a tremendous athlete with incredible leg thrust post to post. Hes also a really good kid with solid character.
This draft pick is more longer term. Goalies take a little bit longer to develop, so were happy to get him. We had him ranked in our top 10, so were happy to get him.
Subban arrived a little late to the goaltending craft because his father wanted him to be a defenseman as a young player in Ontario, and he didnt get a chance to strap on the goaltending equipment until he was a 12-year-old playing for a different coach.
So the athleticism and goaltending technique are still relatively raw and still-developing rather than a finished product, but Subban was the top-ranked goaltender on the NHL Central Scouting list headed into the draft. His biggest challenges will be refining rebound control and perfecting his positioning, but those are things every goaltender is constantly striving to improve.
He also already wins points with Bs fans by taking a few playful jobs at his older brother playing in Montreal, the flamboyant flop artist defenseman that has quickly become Public Enemy No. 1 in Boston.
"The rivalry is about to begin, said Subban with a gleaming smile. I don't know if PK is going to like me too much. But to be honest I never liked him too much anyway.
To be honest I dont like Montreal all that much. Im from Toronto, so I liked Toronto more than Montreal. I used to watch a lot of New York Rangers and Pittsburgh games, but Boston is a great city and an Original Six team. Theres nothing more you could ask for. Now I have this rivalry with my brother too. Its pretty surreal.
Perhaps Bruins forward Tyler Seguin put it even more succinctly in a tweet to P.K. after Malcolms pick was announced: congrats to your brother for me. Looking forward to seeing him in our logo. Ur never allowed to put it on tho.
The dramatic possibilities are endless if big brother is still with the Canadiens playing his irritating brand of hockey when Malcolm finally makes it up to Boston.
Subban finished fourth in the Ontario Hockey League with a 2.50 goals against average and tied for fifth with a .923 save percentage, and represented Canada at the 2011 World Under-18 Championships.
That was a big jump from his 2010-11 rookie season in Belleville when he put together a 3.16 goals against average and .900 save percentage in 32 games, and scouts noted the rapid rate of improvement for Subban from one season to the next.
But its not the numbers that Chiarelli and the Bruins are looking at. Its Tuukka Rask at 25 years old and Anton Khudobin at 26 years old entering next season, and a wide open competition among the next generation of goaltenders. Some might have argued that the Bruins should have shored up their size on the wing with the top pick and some certainly thought a good-sized defenseman is something the Bruins sorely lack within the organization.
But Chiarelli knows with Thomas flying the coop back to Colorado that the Bruins should have been looking for their goaltender of the future now that Rask is the goaltender of the present. With the investment of a first round pick Subban obviously becomes that goaltender of the future.
Goaltender certainly is a need if Thomas wont be playing for us and his contract expires. Well be short one goalie, said Chiarelli. Going into this year, though, regardless of Tims situation its an area of need that we wanted to back-fill a little bit.
Chiarelli indicated that Subban would likely turn pro after one more junior season with Belleville, and he could be at least a couple of years away from the NHL once he gets to the professional level.
Boston has always shown great patience with their young goaltenders, and allowed them to mature as they did with Tuukka Rask in a pair of seasons with the Providence Bruins before his long apprenticeship under Thomas.
But thats all a story for another day as is the future seething rivalry with P.K. and the punk-ish Habs.
Instead Friday night was about an 18-year-old reaching his goal after starting off as a lowly 11th round pick when he was selected by his junior hockey team.
My goal from the start of the year was to go in the first round, said Subban. Coming into the OHL I was a pretty late pick and I never thought Id come this far. Theres no disappointment at all. My whole hope was to go in the first round at the end of this year.
I had my path. I had my goal. I achieved it, so Im really happy. It couldnt be better than being with an Original Six team.
The only thing that could be better would be stoning big brother P.K. on a breakaway at TD Garden and then striking a Subban-esque pose with the packed house of fans feeding off the sibling rivalry.
Its a dream so vividly compelling that it needs to happen, and perhaps it will someday in the distance when the future becomes the present for Subban and the Bruins.