Bruins’ Subban faces important developmental season

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One could make an argument that just about any developmental year is a big one for a young prospect. Even so, that assessment seems appropriate for Boston Bruins prospect Malcolm Subban’s 2014-15 season.

In 2013-14, the 2012 first-rounder battled for AHL starts with Niklas Svedberg. Svedberg now looks primed to replace Chad Johnson as Tuukka Rask’s backup, so Subban will likely be the go-to goalie for the Providence Bruins.

Subban, 20, described the mental adjustment he made as a backup/1B guy to NHL.com:

“It was challenging, to be honest,” Subban said. “When it’s something you’re not used to, like I’m used to playing a lot of games and being the go-to guy, so it was kind of tough being the secondary guy. But I just had to stay focused mentally. I think that was the hardest thing for me mentally, just to stay focused and to earn my way. And you know you don’t play as much, so you know when you get a chance to play you’ve got to play well, and that’s what I tried to do.”

A potentially challenging road ahead?

Let’s face it: Subban might want to get used to that feeling, even if it might not surface for a while.

As volatile as the goaltending position can be, Tuukka Rask just won his first Vezina Trophy and is only 27. His $7 million cap hit won’t expire until after the 2020-21 season.

The Bruins have to look at Subban as a backup for the medium-term future, at least in their ideal scenarios.

If Subban justifies that first-round selection, he would give the Bruins valuable flexibility. If he takes longer than they’d prefer, his future could be even more fluid.

It makes for an interesting situation overall and may take quite some time to resolve. Still, the talented netminder would do well to make a strong impression next season.