Speculation on Twitter that Subban would start Wednesday’s game in Edmonton was rampant, but Bruins head coach Claude Julien gave the nod to No. 1 netminder Tuukka Rask with the team winless in its previous four games.
While many believe it made more sense to start the more experienced Rask against an inferior opponent with Boston desperately seeking two points, the Oilers beat Rask three times on 30 shots in regulation and overtime in an eventual 4-3 shootout victory.
Edmonton, which enters Friday’s action 29th in the 30-team NHL with a 17-32-10 record, is said to be courting Subban, a first-round draft pick of Boston in 2012, as the March 2 trade deadline approaches.
Who wouldn’t be interested in a 21-year-old some are saying could develop into a franchise goaltender?
The Bruins hold down the second wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference by just one point over Florida and appear stable in goal for the foreseeable future as Rask is signed through 2021 and Niklas Svedberg is a capable backup, so perhaps Subban could be moved to fill some immediate holes for a playoff run.
Lateral movement 'second to none'
For now, the quiet younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban plans to enjoy the moment.
“I was really excited to get the call [from the American Hockey League on Monday] and I’m really happy to be here,” Subban told reporters in Leduc, Alta., on Tuesday. “I’m trying to treat this as just another day. I’ll try to stay focused, keep level-headed and be ready for my opportunities.”
A Toronto native, Subban was recalled from Providence on Jan. 30 and suited up as Rask’s backup for four games but didn’t see any ice time.
In 24 games for the AHL Bruins this season, he has 10 wins, a 2.47 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. The save percentage is identical to last season's when Subban posted a 2.31 GAA in 33 AHL contests.
“On the goaltending side, he’s pretty impressive,” Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien told the Edmonton Journal this week. “His lateral movement is second to none to what I’ve seen around the league.
“He’s maturing as a pro. He’s adjusted. You can’t be too aggressive.”
But is Subban NHL-ready?
“Last time we called Malcolm up, he was the player of the week in the American league. We’ve got three goalies here, which gives us choices.”
What that means is the six-foot-two, 200-pound Subban might not be immediately returned to the AHL after Friday’s game, but rather have a chance to compete for playing time with Svedberg, who is 5-5-0 in 13 games this season with a 2.43 GAA and .915 save percentage.
“No. 1, it’s competition; No. 2, it’s an opportunity,” Julien said. “If we’re bringing him back, it’s probably to give him an opportunity [to play] here along the way.”