Bulls netminder Malcolm Subban's goal is within reachNov 19, 2011 - 01:00 EST
Written By: Sweetland, Josh
By Daniel Girard - The Toronto Star
Just like his brothers, Malcolm Subban’s life in hockey began on defence.
But even in those early years, learning the game, watching older brother P.K. develop skills that would eventually land him a spot in the NHL, and younger brother Jordan begin down the path that has him in his rookie season in the OHL, Malcolm realized he was cut from a different cloth.
“I always wanted to be a goalie,” Malcolm Subban recalled this week. “I’d watch Don Cherry’s (Rock’em Sock’em) tapes and see (Martin) Brodeur and (Felix) Potvin making big saves and I wanted to be just like them.”
It appears he’s going to get his chance. On Thursday, Subban was rated the top draft eligible goalie in the OHL as NHL Central Scouting released its preliminary rankings for the best players in junior hockey around the world.
Just five years after Karl, his father and coach, finally relented and let him don the pads on a full-time basis, Subban, a Belleville Bull who turns 18 next month, has a chance to go higher in next June’s NHL entry draft than P.K., a second-round pick, 43rd overall, by the Montreal Canadiens in 2007.
“It’s in his blood. He’s a natural goaltender,” Bulls’ goalie coach Sebastien Farrese said of Subban, a big, butterfly-style netminder in the mould of New York Rangers’ all-star Henrik Lundqvist. “He’s big but he doesn’t just stand and get hit by the puck. He’s so athletic, he uses a lot of his reflexes.”
That goaltending ability was first developed not at the rink but at home. Though Malcolm was a defenceman until age 12, he regularly put on shin pads and faced shots and dekes from P.K. and Jordan — they were told not to raise the puck — in the hallways and backyard of their Rexdale home.
Belleville, home to P.K. for four seasons and where Jordan is in his first year, took Malcolm Subban in the 11th round, 218th overall, from the Toronto Marlboros minor midget team in the 2009 OHL entry draft. After a year with the Mississauga Reps for major midget, he was a Bulls’ regular last season.
Subban turned heads last spring in a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. He was 0-3 but posted a 2.02 goals against average and .933 save percentage against the OHL’s top offence.
He followed that up with a solid performance for Canada at the 2011 world under-18 championship in Germany — 3-2, 2.98 GAA, .913 save percentage and a shutout – as Canada lost to Russia in the bronze-medal game.
Then, in August, the 6-foot-1, 188-pounder played well at the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp for top draft-eligible players.
But just three games into this season, he hurt his ankle and missed a month.
“This was my first injury ever and for it to come in my draft year, was a pretty big deal,” Subban says. “It was really hard because I didn’t want to rush it but at the same time I wanted to get back as soon as possible.”
In two weeks since his return, Subban has been spectacular. He’s 5-0 with a 1.54 GAA, .949 save percentage and a shutout. He was the CHL goalie of the week for the week ending Nov. 5, the second such award of his career.
“I didn’t feel like I missed a beat,” Subban said of his return from injury, which saw him give up just one goal in defeating the defending OHL champion Owen Sound Attack and runner-up Majors on consecutives nights.
Despite a month layoff, Subban went into Thursday’s action third among OHL goalies with a 6-2 record, 2.20 GAA and .929 save percentage.
Subban, who said it would be “a great honour” to be invited to the selection camp next month for Canada’s entry in the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship, said he’s in almost daily contact with P.K. Big brother has helped him “mentally prepare” for his draft year and put it into perspective.
“Scouts are going to be there every game, so there’s no need to be nervous,” Subban says. “It’s not like they’re coming to one game in the year and if you don’t play well you’re not getting drafted. You can’t worry about it.
“If I can play my game, I can go pretty high in the draft and hopefully I do.”