It’s a little unfair, really. But you watch the shirt-flapping speed, the sense of authority when he carries the puck, the passion that comes through on each and every shift and you can’t help but compare defenseman Jordan Subban to his older brother.
The only difference, major junior scouts say, is Jordan is even better than P.K. was at the same age. A lot better. That’s not to say 16-year-old Jordan will ultimately one day be a better NHLer than the Montreal Canadiens star rookie, it’s far too early to determine that yet, but people like what Jordan has going.
And they like it even more after Subban and his Toronto Marlies teammates captured the OHL Cup in Toronto Sunday afternoon with a 5-3 win over the Don Mills Flyers. Subban was a key cog on a Marlie team that lost only three of its 81 minor midget games this season. Subban, who turned 16 in March, is eligible for the Ontario League draft this year and is certain to go in the top five.
Karl Subban, the father to P.K., Jordan and Belleville Bulls goalie Malcolm Subban, doesn’t know if he shares the scouts’ assessments of his youngest son, but he knows Jordan and Subban share a lot of traits.
“I’m not sure if he’s better (than P.K. was at the same age), but I do know he’s getting better,” Karl said. “They both do certain things well, but the one thing they share is the drive that they have. Jordan has the same passion P.K. has and I think that’s one thing that will serve him well in the future.”
Jordan’s calling card, at this point, is his speed. The impressive thing about him is not only does he skate fast, he’s capable of making precision plays at high speed. Like his older brother, he seems to want to win the game every time he’s out on the ice and while that can sometimes lead to defensive breakdowns, the upside he gives you with his offensive game will be a boon to his career. Jordan doesn’t seem to have the same capacity as his older brother to drive his opponents to distraction, but there’s a lot of time to develop that skill.
OHL scouts contend that while the two brothers look very similar when they play, Jordan’s game is far more refined than P.K.’s was when he was 16. P.K. was a sixth round pick to the Belleville Bulls in 2005, largely because his talent was so raw.
“When P.K. was that age, you had no idea what he was going to do,” one OHL scout said. “He didn’t play for as good a team and he was always running around his own zone trying to do everything. Jordan is a little more offense-minded than P.K. was as well.”
One thing Jordan has had to deal with that P.K. did not is the constant comparisons. P.K. was a largely anonymous player until he was picked in the second round of the NHL draft and starred with Canada’s national junior team. But Jordan has lived with the comparisons for years, in large part because he looks like a 5-foot-10, 165-pound Version 2.0 of P.K Subban.
“It has never bothered me at all,” Jordan said. “I can say I’ve never felt that pressure on the ice. It’s not something I even think about that much. We definitely have a lot of similarities, but I’m my own person, too.”
The final game of what amounts to the unofficial all-Ontario championship for minor midgets featured a number of players who will be high OHL picks this June and are being counted upon to star in the league in the coming seasons. Here they are, in projected order of selection:
Nicolas Ritchie (Marlies)
If Aaron Ekblad of Windsor is not granted the “exceptional status” designation to enter the OHL draft as an underage player, Ritchie would be the first pick overall. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he has a terrific combination of skill and size and the most attractive aspect of him is his December, 1995 birthday, meaning he’ll play three years in the OHL before being drafted.
Darnell Nurse (Don Mills)
A Chris Pronger-type who plays a mean and nasty game, but combines it with very good skating and an offensive flare. At 6-foot-4 and 178 pounds, the nephew of NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb has scouts excited.
Max Domi (Don Mills)
The apple didn’t only fall far from the tree, it fell in another orchard when it comes to the son of Tie Domi. The younger Domi has said he will not play in the OHL next season, but he will be pressured heavily by whoever drafts him. He’s a smart player who is extremely skilled and very good on faceoffs.
David Perklin (Marlies)
Another big body at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Perklin missed a game in the tournament with an injury, but finished third in scoring with five goals and 12 points in six games.
Bryson Cianfrone (Marlies)
“You have concerns about his size,” one OHL scout said of the 5-foot-10, 167-pound captain of the Marlies, “but all he does is score.”
ANOTHER SUBBAN IN BELLEVILLE?
As far as Subban is concerned, he and his family have made no secret of the fact they would prefer he were drafted by the Belleville Bulls, where P.K. played his junior years and Malcolm is playing this season. The Bulls will be picking fifth overall.
“We have a great relationship with (GM-coach) George Burnett and the Belleville Bulls,” Karl Subban said. “He’s an excellent teacher, one of the best. We would love for him to work with Jordan, but we’ll have to see where it goes.”
Three players to watch for who played with the Marlboros in the OHL Cup as major bantams are forwards Joshua Ho-Sang and Jaden Lindo and defensemen Jonathan Duchesne and Roland McKeown.
Ho-Sang is a fast and creative player who scored four goals and nine points in the tournament. Lindo is a power forward who scored five points. Look for both to be top prospects for the 2012 OHL draft.