P.K. Subban took his offensive game to another level last season, posting career highs across the board. Does the two time Norris nominee still have another level to reach though?
Subban started the season somewhat quietly, posting just seven points in each of the first two months (25 games). He was being asked to play more of a two-way game while insulating against the early struggles of Alexei Emelin, who started the year as his partner. Once he got paired with Andrei Markov though, he took off (even when Markov started to falter towards the end of the year), tallying 46 points from December onward. His strong second half of the season in particular, one where he really carried the load for the defence pretty much every night, likely contributed to his nomination for the Norris Trophy.
While Subban did lead the team in points in the playoffs and played pretty well, he only was able to manage a single goal (1-7-8) as teams really overplayed on his shot. Of course, his postseason play will be most remembered for his slash on Mark Stone, one that earned him an ejection and set tempers ablaze for several games.
Season Stats: 82 GP, 15 goals, 45 assists, 60 points, +21 rating, 74 PIMS, 8 PPG, 0 SHG, 5 GWG, 170 shots, 26:12 TOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
There’s no doubt that Subban will be the undisputed #1 defenceman on this team. Don’t be surprised, however, if he sees a small drop in his ice time. While he showed that he can handle heavy minutes, he also understandably wasn’t as sharp as he has been. With Jeff Petry now in the fold full-time, the Habs now have a second right shot blueliner that can play above average minutes. That should allow Subban to drop closer to 25 minutes a night on average, saving him the equivalent of three or four games played in the process based on his playing time last season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him play a bit less on the penalty kill which certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Even if Subban does see a small dip in his ice time, he still should be amongst the NHL’s top point producers. If the power play wakes up next season, it could open up some more scoring opportunities for him. Rather than go on and on about him racking up the points, which he will do, here are a few things to keep in mind when ranking him.
– Subban’s PP point percentage last year (55% of his total points) was much higher than in 2013-14 (43%) but still lower than 2012-13 (68%). His lowest points per game ratio in the past three years was in 2013-14; as a result, if you don’t expect the PP to improve much upon last year’s ugliness, you may want to drop Subban down a bit in your rankings.
– His hits per game totals are trending down while his blocks per game have increased in recent years. In each of his five seasons, his PIM per game average drops from the prior year. Keep that in mind for leagues with those stat categories.
– Subban averaged the fewest shots per game in his career last season. As he is the focal point with the man advantage (and even 5-on-5 he has the puck a lot), don’t be surprised if the team tries to do some things to get him open more frequently. Not only will that up his shot total (important for leagues with that stat) but also gives him a shot at more goals. Of course, his shooting percentage last year was a career high so these could offset somewhat.
I think Subban has it in him to hit a career high in 2015-16 as long as he stays healthy but it won’t be enough to pass Max Pacioretty for the team lead. Once again, Subban should be at the very least in the conversation for the Norris Trophy when the ballots are cast in April.