Flames Darkhorse Targets: Jordan Subban


Jordan Subban

– pic via Chance Taylor

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.

The Numbers

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

Around the Nation

  • Parallex

    If the Flames were to wrangle an extra pick from somewhere I wouldn’t object to taking Subban… but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get him. I think that if when #66 roles around both Cammarata and Subban are around that I’d go with Cammarata.

    • Franko J

      I think Hayden is better choice as a pick than Subban as well.

      Not that I don’t think Subban would be an interesting selection in the third round, but there are other prospects or picks I think would fit the Flame’s need more so than Subban. Hayden would be one of them.

      While Feaster was so desperate to pursue ROR, I think by drafting Hayden the Flames have a close comparison. Again looking at the Western Conference one way to ensure success is by drafting and developing good centres. Especially ones with some size. Already Hayden has some size to frame along with some skill and a good hockey IQ.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I’d take Cammarata or Tolchinksy first.

    STAY AWAY before round 4.

    Although, and I have no clue as to the history on this sort of thing, but what about converting the guy to forward (I feel like I’m in a Seinfeld episode)?

    Because there’s no way I see him cutting it as a regular D in the NHL.

  • Parallex

    I don’t see anything wrong with taking this kid in the 3rd. How many 3rd rounders are considered safe anyway? Might as well get a little upside while simultaneously addressing a need (offensive dmen).

    Some other players I like around that range are Linus Arnesson, Taylor Cammarata, and Ryan Kujanwinksi.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I know I’m being a little unfair about this, but I wouldn’t like to see PK Subban in a Flame uniform. I haven’t seen one player fight his team mates that often since Matthew Barnaby played. I get that Jordan is a different person and it’s unfair to compare, but I wouldn’t be surprised for this too show up in the “good bloodlines”.

    Regardless of the above, this profile could have been written about Mark Cundari, so does this team really need another young diminutive defensemen?

    • Parallex

      Except if your looking at point totals Cundari did at 20 what Subban has done at 18. Cundari also has more… snarl?… to his game then Subban does but if your look for offense from the blueline then I think you’d prefer Subban. MA Bergeron does seem like a more apt comparison.

  • MC Hockey

    I say he’s suitable for 4th round, maybe 3rd round if you had extra picks in the 3rd. If Flames take him, hopefully he is more like a Staal brother (Marc or Jordan) than a Gretzky brother (sorry Brent).

  • BurningSensation

    I like Subban as a possible 3rd round pick for us, in part because he projects to have excellent strength (PK and Malcolm are both physically powerful dudes), to go with very good offensive ability,

    You can teach kids like him how to play defense in his own zone, and he looks like he’ll have the quickness and strength to do so.

    He’d be a project, but worth it IMO.

  • BurningSensation

    4 th round is a suitable gamble for him, perhaps he grows some and learns a bit of defense from an couple more years in the ohl. seen tolchinsky, he is smallish, gifted offensively and looks like he is 12 years old, the kid has some sick skills however gets hammered by bigger bodies. lets hope flying j and the guru dont do something off the wall and jump the que for either one.

      • Franko J

        Jarome looked slow and very old! I really expected to see him shine in the playoffs but he only really contributed in the blowout type wins. I’m betting LA picks him up as a UFA. Wonder if he regrets his choice to even leave the Flames. I’ll always respect him but I’m so glad Boston won! So do we get pick 27 now in the draft? I have a hard time seeing jarome playing til 40. This was levels above his speed and skill! Try 4 yrs ago! Not bad for the flames now!

  • schevvy

    1st off- Iggy is awesome and I will never be mad at him

    2nd- pretty hard to win a series when you only score 2 goals. Seems like the close call vs Toronto woke the Bruins up. NBC has a potential dream final in Boston vs Chicago, two original 6 teams, can’t be that much better.

    Now where does Iggy sign? I’ll bet a loonie he signs in LA.

  • Willi P

    Would be interesting to see the criteria for the “dark horse pick”. Is it just picking names/player profiles or is there some methodology?

    With regards to Iginla, doesn’t look like he will re-sign in Pitt but you never know. Sold his house in Calgary; maybe he signs in Vancouver, Edmonton or LA. Stick it to those nasty Flames for running him out of town and forcing a trade to the wrong team, oh wait?

  • schevvy

    Iggy will not sign in Vancouver or Edmonton. It would be so wrong. Again, I say LA is the destination, maybe Detroit.

    For those calling for heads to roll in Pittsburgh, I wish we had that problem here with the Flames. The conference finals are a once in 15 years kind of thing.

    • Willi P

      I am sure Dutter would like to have him. We will see, but never say never in regards to the Oil or Nux. Iginla is from Edmonton and has a summer place/team in the OK valley. Edmonton is the same distance and Vancouver is closer. Wrong from your perspective, perhaps not his. Stranger things have happened

  • Truculence

    Wow. I can see Flames fans taking solace in the fact that we will draft higher, but dumping on Iggy? Damn, I could never have imagined it would come to this.

      • Franko J

        It’s not dumping on iggy. He sucked and that’s that! He also screwed us in that he gave a list to jay and then got to pick from the list. Quit with poor iggy!

        • Franko J

          Amen brother, poor iggy poor iggy. iggy dogged it with the flames, ran opposition to butter’s system, and played for personal stats. that a legacy. flames fans need to separate the young gun iggy from the post 2008 iggy. count the coaches the flames turnstiled through town, and numerous hockey types will tell you off the record there was no love between iggy and his coaches. so poor iggy, nice deflection on the macquaid goal. karma has a funny way of biting ya in the ass.

    • Franko J

      Oh Ya too bad for Jroam, balked at going to the bruins screwed feaster and company, then figured it was a lock with crosby. only thing he overlooked waas he was a terrible fit and was relegated to being a thirdliner. iggy was overwhelmed and looked tragicly like an old greybeard who’s days in the league are numbered. old slow and unable to contribute is not the swan song he was seeking. pitt fans are screaming mad and looks like disco and the fluery are going to be run out of steeltown. disco has been out coached in 4 straight playoffs. montreal,tampa,philly and the bruins. goes to show how regular numbers can inflate value.

    • the forgotten man

      again, it’s only 27 if LA beats Chicago IIRC. The conference finalist losers get 28 and 27, and the only one of the teams left that had more points in the regular season than Pittsburgh is Chicago. Who has a 3-1 lead over LA.

      Probably 6, 22, 28.

  • Iggy can still be an important piece for a good team. He just isn’t a 5-6 mill piece many thought he was. I think a 1-2 year deal at around 3.0mill per would interest the likes of LA or Bruins or even Philly for that matter. He’s a 3rd line player with 2nd powerplay time & should fit that role well if he can get his head around his diminished status. Like my Grandma used to tell me, growing old is no fun.

  • Derzie

    Jarome looked exactly like he did in Calgary. Lost . Instant turnover. He should just retire. He’s tarnishing the work he has done. As for the Pittsburgh fans, they need to give their head a shake. The sheer dichotomy between performing well in the regular season and playoffs forces a team to be two teams. Highly skilled with goonish size. Enter Boston, Chicago and LA. Pittsburgh should look squarely at the GM. Instead of bringing in goonish size to protect his skill he brought in some post-apex 90s skill. Every POS Bruin that touched Sid should have had their head smashed in. That’s why Toronto took the Beantown Bullies the farthest. They brought some bulk with their skill. The way the NHL is being officiated now is really really close to WWE. As long as that is the case, the low-forehead behemoths with the most skill will rule the roost. So, the next time your GM looks to Europe for a player, yell, scream and shout to get his attention. What they call hockey and what Bettman calls hockey are as different as chalk and cheese. F*** the Neanderthals.

    • piscera.infada

      IMO the reason the Pens lost to Boston has nothing to do with goonery. It has everything to do with the narrative they wrote to start the series – “we are as big and tough as they are”. No, in fact, you aren’t! I find it funny that the Penguins didn’t play “their style” of hockey until they were down 1-0 in the fourth and deciding game of a series. Where was their speed? Where was their finesse?

      Toronto took it to Boston in some games not because of goons and hard-nosed play, but because they used their speed to stretch Boston.

      I think whoever gave the “toughness” mandate within the Penguins organization deserves the blame for the collapse – not losing the series, as I think Boston would have won anyway. This has to be Bylsma. I wouldn’t be advocating firing him, but you don’t try to go toe to toe with Boston in a slug-fest. You need to beat them with speed and make them chase you.

      Chicago will do this, and that’s why they’ll win. Pittsburgh merely showed them how not to play.

      • piscera.infada

        It’s actually a myth that Boston is “big and bad”. They rank 17th in the league in height, and 12th in weight (Calgary is 2nd last in both, haha, I guess we really are the smallest team in the league). Pittsburgh is 20th and 9th respectively.

        So, in terms of size, they actually stack up rather well against the Bruins.

        • piscera.infada

          Regardless of actual size, they play a very physical game (thus, the ‘big and bad’ moniker, isn’t necessarily about real size). Whereas Pitts, not so much. That’s all I was getting at.

          I was surprised with the Pens’ lack of speed through the neutral zone as well as on the forecheck. That’s usually their bread and butter – that’s why they usually have such a good cycle game IMO. They either a) didn’t use it at all or b) were completely neutralized by the Bruins. It seemed to me as though it was a combination of the two (all credit to Boston), but considering the Penguins proclivity to completely dominate teams this way over the last few years, you would assume they were playing outside their system a little bit.

          I’m not so sure you can look at the actual ‘size rankings’ of a team and determine how physically they play. Case in point, Marchand – the dude’s tiny, but he’s a little wrecking ball, or Callahan in NY – again, he’s no Chara, but he’s a tough SOB. Boston, in my eyes, is not a terribly quick or skilled team (not saying they lack elite skilled talent – but they aren’t a Pittsburgh or Chicago) but they are extremely difficult to play against, especially in a seven game series. Once they wear you down physically, their skill takes over, and they just hem you in your own zone all night.

          • piscera.infada

            “Regardless of actual size, they play a very physical game (thus, the ‘big and bad’ moniker, isn’t necessarily about real size). Whereas Pitts, not so much. That’s all I was getting at.”

            Regular season hits: Pittsburgh (9th), Boston (10th).

            Regular season blocked shots: Pittsburgh (10th), Boston (22nd).

            Calgary was 27th and 15th respectively.

          • piscera.infada

            Alright, I’ve been bested hah!

            I still don’t understand why Pittsburgh deviated from what they did so well in the regular season. I would assume if you turned the game into a track-meet of sorts, it would favor the Penguins – save for brilliant ‘tending from Rask.

          • piscera.infada

            Indeed. the Pens definitely didn’t look like themselves. Particularly Crosby.

            In all honesty, though, the Bruins are a very good team, and it’s conceivable that they would have won a 7 game series against the Penguins even with Crosby, Malkin et al. going at full tilt.