The youngest of the Subban brothers is the relatively diminutive Jordan Subban, a defender for the OHL’s Belleville Bulls. At 5’9" and 180 pounds, Jordan doesn’t have the size of elder sibling and probable Norris trophy winner PK Subban, but he does have a similar offensive flair. If he was 6’2", Jordan would almost certainly be a top-30 pick this year, but his size and the problems associated with being smaller in the NHL (particularly as a defensman) have him projected as a probable 2nd-3rd rounder this year.
Subban is one of the highest scoring blueliners available this June. His 51 points in 68 games was good for 6th most amongst defenders in the OHL and all the guys ahead of Subban on that list have ’93 or ’92 birthdays (Jordan was born in 1995). For further context, probable first overall choice Seth Jones managed 56 in 61 games, but also played on a team that scored about 100 more goals than Subban’s Bulls during the season. Older bro PK also played on the Bulls in junior and had a very similar stats line at the same point in his career by the way (15g-41-56pts in 68 games).
So the weaponry is there. The real question is, can Subban overcome his size limitations and round into a useful 5on5 player at the highest level? Or would he, at best, be limited to a PP specialist role like MA Bergeron?
The Scouting Reports
Subban the younger shows up between 40-80 on most draft lists. Corey Pronman ranks him the 54th best prospect available and shares this about him:
Subban is a top-end skater who has the ability to jet up and down the ice as a dangerous puck rusher. He has plus offensive skill, as he can weave through traffic and make quality setups. He can be a little risky with his offensive attacks, however, as well as make poor positional errors on defense. He is a small defenseman at about 5’9", and that brings a solid amount of risk to his projection. His value in his own end is questionable, although he will work hard in one-on-one battles. He can make plays as a stick checker, but as a prospect, he has a high amount of uncertainty based on his defensive projection.
So the size risk is spiked by questions about his decision making. That MA Bergeron comparison seems a little more apt.
The Future Considerations draft guide has Subban ranked 54th overall as well. They echo Pronman’s assessment of the player: great skater, highly creative, hard worker, but with a defensive game that is undeveloped and punctuated by gambles.
Subban’s future in the league will no doubt hinge on whether he can firm up his play in the bad end of the rink. On top of being little, which is a very difficult handicap to overcome, it becomes orders of magnitude more difficult to move up the rotation if you are an agent of chaos south of the redline.
As mentioned, Subban’s output this year is near the top of the draft class. His NHLE comes out to about 19, which only marginally lags behind many of the forwards who will likely be picked at the end of the first round in June. He scored almost 20 more points than the next highest scoring defender on Belleville.
Of course, other smaller guys have scored a bunch from the blueline and failed to have that translate at the NHL level. Micki Dupont is an example from the more distant past – he managed 54 points in his second season in the WHL and scored 88 in 70 games in his 4th year (including 26 goals), but could never make it stick in the pros because of less than ideal size (5’10, 185). Ian White also tore up the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos, scoring 79 points in his draft year, but again he only developed into a somewhat useful player in the show.
If Subban is picked in the third round or beyond and manages to play as many games as Ian White, that would be considered a win by most clubs I’m sure. Still, there’s no guarantee he even gets that far down the road. Dan Boyle is usually the comparable that is brought up with kids like this, but he’s the rare exception rather than a useful benchmark.
Subban has good bloodlines as well as high-end offensive acumen. He is both creative and mobile, which are good skills to have in a modern defender.
On the other hand, he’s significantly hampered by his size and the fact his own zone game is apparently still very raw. At least one of those things will have to change to a non-trivial degree for him to have a real shot at getting any sort of ice time at the NHL level. Coaches will sometimes trade size or a defensive game for goals from the blueline, but rarely both.
As a result, Jordan Subban is the sort of high-risk, high-reward pick in the middle of the rotation that can make an org look smart 4 years down the road. That or he’ll simply fade into oblivion with the majority of other third round picks and guys who are simply known for having famous older brothers.
Flames Darkhorse Targets
- Jordan Subban
- Taylor Cammarata