WILMINGTON – Malcolm Subban arrived for his second Bruins developmental camp knowing exactly what to expect from the organization that drafted him in the first round last summer. But the 19-year-old has a different set of expectations for himself as he and the Bruins expect him to turn pro at the end of the summer.
Provided Subban fares well during rookie camp and NHL training camp this fall, there’s every chance he will be stopping pucks in Providence this season after steady improvement as the starting goalie for the Belleville Bulls in each of the last three seasons. Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney said as much after the first day of B’s development camp, and that likely puts Subban and Niklas Svedberg together as a talented tandem at the AHL level for this upcoming season.
“Unless something changes in that that regard, we expect him to be a part of the pro environment this year,” Sweeney said. “Bob Essensa is really looking forward to working with Malcolm because he’s such an athletic goaltender that holds so much promise.
“He played a lot of hockey this year, and the experience he went through of being challenged and handling a little disappointment really sets him up for the next phase of his career. He’s going to go in against much better shooters than he’s been facing on a day-to-day basis practice level, and his preparation over the course of a long season. He experienced the pressure this year, and I think it’s only going to go up at the next level on the business side of it with wins and losses being what they are.”
Subban was 29-11-4 last season with a 2.17 goals against average and a .934 save percentage this past season for Belleville, but also went through some struggles for Team Canada at the World Junior level.
The Bruins are high enough on the puck-stopping member of the Subban family that Peter Chiarelli deflected all trade inquiries about Malcolm last spring when the Calgary Flames mentioned his name as part of the Jarome Iginla talks.
With that in mind, the middle Subban sibling – with older brother P.K. Subban a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens, and younger brother Jordan Subban, a 2013 draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks – is ready to take on a new challenge.
In all likelihood Subban will spend at least a couple of seasons in Providence developing his goaltending craft and refining his technique, undergoing the same development path experienced by Tuukka Rask over the last five years.
“I still have a lot of work to do before I get to the NHL level, so I’m just working really hard so I can get to that level. That’s not even entering my mind right now,” said Subban, who had one of the biggest crowds around him in the Bruins dressing room following the camp. “I’m just really focused on getting better and improving.
“I watched [Rask] a lot in the playoffs and he played really well. He really covered the net, and was centered and always under control. He has really good balance. I’ve never really talked to him because of the lockout, but hopefully I get to work up close with him during training camp.”
As Subban stated, one of the unfortunate byproducts of last year’s lockout was the cancellation of NHL training camps last fall that kept young player like Subban from experiencing his first big league training camp. That will be remedied this fall and it will help Subban continue what Boston hopes is a steady, upward development.