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Even with a Norris Trophy, Subban has room for improvement

Aug 7, 2013, 1:53 PM EDT

P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens shoots during warmup before NHL action against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre January 21, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
(January 20, 2012 - Source: Abelimages/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

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.

More Montreal Canadiens day on PHT:

Five Habs to watch in 2013-14

Habs need bounceback from Price

  1. JohnG - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    He could start by being a better defenseman than Suter and Keith.

  2. 19to77 - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Subban has great offensive skill and his judgement on when and how to use it is improving, but could it be better? Of course. Unlike Karlsson and Letang he’s actually playable in a shutdown role, but he still takes chances that get him burned sometimes. He’s much better than he was two years ago, though, so that suggests he’ll keep improving.

  3. joey4id - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    He has become a much improved d man in the d zone. No doubt about that. His ability to read and react to the play, his intensity and mobility are giving him the edge over many others. He learned how to angle players when checking in the d zone. He now can cut the passing lane all the while eliminating the player from the play with a solid body check. And he will not make the check if he feels he’ll get caught out of position.

  4. modellforprez - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    He is a dirtbag. who really rocks a R.C jersey!! Yay YAY

    • bruinssuck - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:17 PM

  5. narfmoo12 - Aug 7, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    If you thought the offers to Suter and Weber were huge, just wait for Homer’s sheet to Subban next summer

  6. chuchie414 - Aug 7, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    His name on the Norris should read like this

    2011-12
    PK Subban
    (No seriously, Ryan Suter)

    • 19to77 - Aug 7, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      I feel like as asterisk should be appended to every name on the Norris from now on, and at the bottom of the trophy, “*But only because Nick Lidstrom’s retired.”

    • lordfletcher - Aug 7, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      still can’t comprehend how Suter did not win

      and I am trying to not be a homer. I seriously don’t think it was close. I can’t stand how this trophy is now about offensive numbers. Just imagine if Suter played in Montreal or Toronto, his votes would have been unanimous

  7. ntvd7 - Aug 7, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    It’s frustrating watching this fool play…

    You see the potential and how great he can be but then he ruins it by running his mouth, getting into people’s faces, and NOT being held accountable for anything…

    Watch this guy fight – He goats people in, grabs them close, and then tries to throw a haymaker so he looks good at the end. Pathetic…

    • joey4id - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      What does one have to do with the other? He had a great season season and got the most votes for the Norris trophy. And! He mouths off to much. If you can’t be objective, then you’re ignorant.

      • ntvd7 - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        He’s a punk…

        Look at the list of the guys who have won the Norris and then look at Subban

        Lidstrom, Bourque, Chelios, Subban?

        He didn’t have a better year than Suter, that’s for damn sure

      • joey4id - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        Doesn’t matter that he’s a punk, loud mouth, turtle or any other adjective we want to use. He’s a Norris Trophy winner, which was chosen by the Pro Hockey Writers Assoc. Maybe more writers should have voted for Sutter solely because he’s not a punk. But! They didn’t. Move on.

  8. malvaren18 - Aug 7, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Reminds me of a young Paul Coffey.

  9. longcutskolvikes - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I’m a huge fan of both Suter and Subban. How is PK a dirtbag? He seems like a great guy off of the ice?

  10. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Subban’s not even the best d-man on his team, let alone the entire NHL. Where was he last year when Markov was injured? Markov comes back and suddenly PK is producing on the PP and the defense is a lot more reliable.

    I think it’s a joke that the NHL’s “best” d-man does NOT kill penalties. That’s when you’d think a coach would use his best defensemen. Ever since Lidstrom retired the Norris seems to go to the d-man who can pile up the most points on the powerplay.

    Subban winning the Norris, Ovechkin winning the Hart. Just makes you scratch your head.

    • joey4id - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      You’re a joke. Habs we’re no where as good without him when he was out because of the contract negotiation. He completely changed the outlook of the PP and the transition game.

      • lordfletcher - Aug 7, 2013 at 8:09 PM

        calling him a joke based upon his opinion makes little to no sense, for that sake I or anyone could call you a joke for thinking differently.

        That said, he wasn’t the best in the league last year (defenseman) … but yes, his game can improve, especially in his own end

      • joey4id - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:06 PM

        He”s a joke because he’s blowing smoke, not opinions. He wrote, “I think it’s a joke that the NHL’s “best” d-man does NOT kill penalties”.

        Fact, “Subban has seen 2.14 minutes per game on the penalty kill in his last 18 games”. April 13th 2013.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:08 AM

      Awww, muffin…. Does the truth about Subban upset you?

      Giving THIS guy the Norris for the “BEST” is a joke. I use the word “joke” because it’s shorter to call it that than to call it a “Slap in the face to all the great defensemen who’ve won the Norris in the past”

      Bragging about 2 hole minutes per game?… for a big 18 games? Ooh la la!!! Might as well engrave his name on the Norris permanently for the next decade.

      FYI he only averaged 1:27 in PK time per game last season. There were 145 d-men who averaged more time on the penalty. 145!!! considering there’s 6 per game, that’s 24 teams worth of d-men that kill more penalties than your Norris trophy winner.

      He only kills them when one of Montreal’s main 4 penalty killers is in the box. He was 6th on the Habs for SH TOI per game. 6th out of 6 d-men on the team. You do the math (if you can).

      • thesportsjudge - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        I’d venture a guess that the only time he was on the pk was when MTL had a lead of more than one goal as well.

  11. drewsylvania - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    Obvious that he needs improvement. Should never have won the Norris.

  12. scoocha - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    This guy is a great defender? He just seemed like a thug every time I watched him play. See playoff series versus Ottawa for concrete examples where he got butthurt over the unfair suspension to the Ottawa player after he hit the Montreal player who learned to skate with his head down.

  13. jtoro25 - Aug 11, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    Wow! A lot of jealousy from you Hab haters (aka Leaf fans). I’m sure you would have loved for Leaf Mgt. to have picked this T.O boy in the SECOND round of the ’07 Draft BUT you traded your 1st & 2nd round picks ( + a 2009 4th rounder) for Vesa & Mark Bell…ouch.
    And whining that a “thug” won the Norris?? Chris Pronger was one of dirtiest defenseman of his time! Or crying that the award is NOW about “offensive numbers”??? I don’t recall Paul Coffey being a defensive specialist!! Don’t worry…you’ll get over it.

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