Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports

6 NHL teams that could use Malcolm Subban

Ty Anderson
October 02, 2017 - 9:09 pm

Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban’s best pro punch to date was not enough to beat out Anton Khudobin for the backup job this preseason, and as a result, Subban has found himself on the waiver wire, available to be claimed by all 30 other NHL teams.

It’ll be a surely agonizing wait for the 23-year-old Subban, who finished the preseason with two wins and an .889 save percentage in 133 minutes of play, and one that could land him literally anywhere else in the NHL, or back in Providence for his fifth season.

Under contract for the next two years, making just $650,000 at the NHL level, and a restricted free agent at the end of it, there’s no shortage of teams that could use Subban, who has posted a .918 save percentage in his four seasons in the AHL.  

But here are the six teams that could probably benefit most from claiming Subban.

(And please keep in mind this is all hypothetical and there are no ‘sources’ at play here.)

Toronto Maple Leafs

A native of the Toronto area, and with this being the Maple Leafs and the hockey world forever spinning around what they do or do not do, it was the Leafs that were the first team that came to everyone’s mind when it came to a possible Subban landing spot.

But it’s also worth noting that the Leafs sort of do have a minor need for another goalie in their organization, and possibly as soon as this upcoming season.

With Frederik Andersen the obvious starter for the long-term future, Curtis McElhinney has been asked to be a serviceable backup for the club since the Leafs first claimed him off waivers from the Blue Jackets last season. The 34-year-old McElhinney has mostly delivered for Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, too, finishing his season with six wins and a .914 save percentage in 14 games down the stretch for Toronto.

McElhinney has followed that up with an OK preseason, with two wins and a .902 save percentage in four games. Those numbers are better than Subban’s, sure, but not by much.

And given Lou Lamoriello’s penchant for stockpiling young talent, grabbing a goaltender that’s just 23 and with multiple (cheap) years left on his current deal has to be enticing.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers are probably going to start Cam Talbot for another 82 games or whatever the final number was last year, so it’s unlikely that they need a backup goaltender at all, let alone another one from outside the organization. But don’t forget who’s running the operation in Edmonton: Ex-Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. You know, the guy who drafted Subban with the 24th overall pick back in 2012 in the first place.

This could mean nothing, especially after projected backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit posted a perfect 3-0-0 record and .939 save percentage in four games this preseason, but Chiarelli, who ran things with the Senators before coming to the Bruins in 2006, has always loved picking up players he has any sort of familiarity with.

Just a few of the ex-Senators that Chiarelli acquired during his time with Boston: Zdeno Chara, Brandon Bochenski, Peter Schaefer, Jason York, Shane Hnidy, Chris Kelly, Wade Redden, and Andrej Meszaros. Chiarelli has continued that trend with the Oilers, although not as feverishly, picking up ex-Bruins like Milan Lucic, stealing director of scouting Keith Gretzky from the Bruins, and even inviting Chris Kelly to camp on a pro tryout this season.

Vancouver Canucks

Similar to the Chiarelli logic of the Oilers, former Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning is running the show in Vancouver, and has shown an interest in some of his former Bruins assets, ranging from Matt Bartkowski to Loui Eriksson. Subban’s younger brother Jordan is also part of the organization, which is something potentially worth noting. And nothing about their current depth in net -- they’ll roll with Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson to begin the season -- seems all that promising, to be honest.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild, while not the first team you’d think of, are somewhat interesting here. The organization essentially lucked into a franchise goaltender in Devan Dubnyk, but have long been searching for that organization’s next young, promising netminder. This search goes all the way back to the Niklas Backstrom days, too.

They thought they had that in Josh Harding before injuries derailed his career. They thought they had it in Matt Hackett, and even as most recently as Darcy Kuemper.

It’s worth noting that Dubnyk is still a lock to start all but a few of Minnesota’s games this season and beyond, of course, but it’s clear that there’s a need for another goalie to somehow emerge for that team moving forward.

And if they made it work with Dubnyk, who arrived to their organization a total mess from what he was with the Oilers and Coyotes, perhaps they can work some magic with Subban.

Nashville Predators

OK, so just about the last thing that the Predators need is another goalie, right? Pekka Rinne just backstopped this club to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance, and Juuse Saros had 10 wins and a .923 save percentage in 19 starts last season. They’re set.

Buuuut, here’s a weird idea for the Predators: You claim Subban, hoping that a reunion with his brother P.K. gets his head where it needs to be and provides that legitimate big brother influence, and that you can then use Saros as part of your trade bait to acquire Matt Duchene. It’s no secret that the Preds have been in the Duchene sweeps for quite some time, and that the prices have never quite matched because of Nashville’s unwillingness to include one of their prized top-four defensemen in the trade package.

Perhaps Saros’ inclusion in a trade package helps the Avalanche ease up on their demands (even just a bit), as Saros could help address the loss of Calvin Pickard, the Colorado backup that was snagged by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. I wouldn’t expect Saros to definitively tilt the scales on Avalanche boss Joe Sakic saying yes to sending Duchene to a team within the division, obviously, but any little bit helps.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins can’t claim Subban, obviously, but this is the team that would benefit the most from Subban going unclaimed.

I know that he’s been a disaster in his two NHL starts, and that there’s probably little you can realistically take from his preseason performance if you’re looking for confidence that it’ll translate to the real NHL because of those previous NHL calamities, but he’s still just 23 years old. His presence in the AHL would only further season him, and continue to develop a legitimate competition between himself and Zane McIntyre. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has not denied the fact that competition is good for everybody, too.

Also: the Bruins need to stop giving assets away for free.

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