BOSTON (CBS) – The Bruins’ defense corps for their entry in the rookie tournament scheduled for Antioch, Tenn., includes four players who will be in rookie camp on a tryout basis.
So if facing top prospects from the host Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning wasn’t going to be enough of a challenge for Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban, playing behind that green defense corps should up the ante for the 2012 first-round draft pick.
The Bruins announced their 22-man roster on Thursday. The squad reports to Boston on Sept. 11 before departing for the tournament.
Subban, 20, is one of 10 players on the team that played for Boston’s Providence farm club in the American Hockey League last season. Subban had a .920 save percentage and 2.31 goals-against average in his first pro season.
With that one year under his belt, the training wheels should be off Subban this fall. And skating for the rookie team could be the first step toward mounting a real challenge to Niklas Svedberg for the Bruins’ No. 2 goaltender position.
Subban’s summer started when he was the lone player with professional experience at the Bruins’ annual development camp. According to both sides, Subban welcomed the invitation as a chance to get closer to his fellow prospects and a chance to work more with goaltending coach Bob Essensa.
When asked several times about his goals for main training camp in the fall, Subban downplayed the notion that he was going to make much noise in the goaltender battle. Providence coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t completely discount the notion of Subban as an NHL goaltender.
“Well yeah, clearly he’s an NHL prospect. To sum it up quickly, he had a good year last year and got better form start to finish,” Cassidy said. “Again, I don’t like to speculate on how it will all turn out come October … but I’m assuming he’s with us [in Providence]. He’s going to have the opportunity to be the guy for us and hopefully he takes the ball and runs with it. And you know you’re never quite sure how that will play out. I assume a year pro under his belt he will be better off for it, a little more prepared out of the gate. I think last year there was a lot of newness for him. But he is a guy, I would assume, down the road he will be competing for a goaltending spot here.”
The most recent part of Subban’s preparation for the upcoming season was his participation in the annual BioSteel Camp in Toronto, where some of the cream of Toronto-area NHL stars compete for a few days. With camp less than a month away, Subban was still trying to downplay his NHL chances.
“I feel like I’m getting a lot closer,” Subban told TSN.ca Wednesday. “I feel like I’m pretty close right now. I’m really confident with how my season went last year.”
Coming off a 2012-13 season that featured the AHL goaltender of the year award, Svedberg couldn’t duplicate his numbers in 2013-14 and ceded some playing time to Subban. So there’s always that little chance, especially without a veteran presence in the mix, that Subban could make the Bruins change the pecking order this fall.
Subban is still a longshot until those first preseason games are played. Among players on the rookie team roster, 2014 first-round pick David Pastrnak and Providence returnees Seth Griffith and Matt Lindblad would seem to have a much better chance to break camp with the Bruins’ varsity. Still keeping close tabs on Subban, to see how he responds to the various challenges of the rookie tournament and how much of a boost he gets from playing in Tennessee prior to the start of main camp, will still be the most interesting aspect of Boston’s entrance in the events down south.
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