Over the past few weeks we’ve heard the great, wise and powerful Donny fuckin Taylor suggest a guy that the Canucks could look at to help fill the spotty right side of their defensive core. Needless to say, the name sent some Canucks fans into a tizzy… PK Subban. At first, my reaction was ‘tizzy-ish‘ too, but upon further reflection – there’s a world where this makes sense. Hear me out before you crucify me.
At 33 years old, Subban’s best hockey years are surely behind him – but he still brings some nice intangibles to the lineup. He’s still very much a serviceable NHL D-man. He’s a big, strong guy; a good skater; a guy with PK and PP experience who can still make plays and shake things up on the physical side (bonus points for DEMOLISHING Marchand… it was a long time ago, but the highlight hasn’t aged).
With 22 points in 77 games last season and a -8 +/-, his underwhelming numbers don’t appear to be drawing a ton of attention from other NHL teams. This means, a bargain could be had.
One of the main knocks against Subban over the course of his career is his larger than life personality. He’s been called a ‘locker room distraction’ – but those criticisms have mostly been silenced as he appeared to have been a well liked leader by his team mates in New Jersey.
The second, and perhaps more worrisome criticism is with regard to play in his own end. He is not regarded as a great ‘defensive defenseman’ and has a pretty stinky plus/minus over the past few years (-45 in his last 3 seasons with the Devils) – but that said, he was a -8 last year on a non-playoff team. He achieved that playing a total of 77 games averaging around 18 minutes. While these aren’t exactly sexy stats, they aren’t as catastrophically bad as we might have expected given his reputation as being a liability in the defensive zone.
I think an apt comparison might be Tyler Myers, who has also carried the reputation of being a liability for most of his career – however, under the tutelage of Bruce Boudreau – he became one of Vancouver’s more defensively responsible guys in the latter half of last season playing alongside Ekman-Larsson. Could ole’ Brucey work his magic on PK?
Surely, signing Subban is a gamble – no doubt about it, but I would still consider him a significant step up from say, Tucker Poolman. He’s also a far superior skater than Luke Schenn (although, I love what Schenn brings to the table in terms of physicality). His experience and right hand shot make him an interesting fit along Quinn Hughes, whose work in the defensive end improved drastically last season, and playing in front of Demko might help hide the odd gaff.
At the end of the day, he’s a guy who’s been around the block that could impart some wisdom to the young stud and take on a bit of a leadership role. I wouldn’t pay more than $2m – $2.5m for him – but if training camp creeps up and the Canucks have yet to address that black hole of a right size and Subban remains unsigned, he might make sense as a stop-gap fit.