Nobody has ever questioned PK Subban’s ability to create offense. The 24-year-old defenseman was a prolific scorer in junior; however, his perceived defensive deficiencies hurt his draft stock, allowing the Canadiens to select him 43rd overall in 2007.
After Subban was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2013, that pick is looking awfully savvy.
This past season, after missing the first six games due to a contract dispute, Subban tallied 38 points, tying him with Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang for the scoring lead among defensemen.
Subban, Letang, and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter were subsequently named the three finalists for the Norris.
While Subban ended up with the most support from Norris voters (Professional Hockey Writers’ Association), it was an extremely close race between first and second — Subban finished with 66 first-place votes; Suter got 65.
Suter supporters pointed to his average ice time (27:16 to Subban’s 23:14) as well as all the time he spent killing penalties (102:14 to Subban’s 60:54).
In fact, there were 34 regular NHL d-men who logged more ice per game than Subban and 117 who spent more time killing penalties.
That said, most everyone will agree that Subban has become a more responsible defender, in addition to all he brings offensively.
“He’s a young defenseman who improves a lot,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said in May. “He’s only 23 years old. (He’s made) a nice progression. We like the way that he’s playing for us. He’s a lot more dependable that he was a few years ago, and that’s a good sign.”
Upon winning the Norris, Subban said getting honored at such a young age was “all the more reason for me to continue to get better, to continue to be a leader and develop both as a player and as a person.”
With another contract negotiation looming, how he performs in 2013-14 — after which he can become a restricted free agent — will be worth watching.
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