2018-2019 Player Reviews: P.K. Subban

Let’s get in the mix.

P.K. Subban did not have a great 2018-2019 season. Sidelined by injury for a significant amount of time, it’s understandable that his numbers would be down.

By all accounts, this past season was disappointing, but let’s be clear: it was not a bad season, it doesn’t define who he is as a player, and he is absolutely still a top defender in the league.

As most would agree across the NHL (except for you, Boston, you’ve made your position pretty clear), P.K. Subban is eternal league sunshine.

However, despite his glowing personality, his 2018-2019 season didn’t shine quite as brightly.

The breakdown

In what would be his last season with the Nashville Predators, Subban had a down year, earning only 31 points in 63 games.

Subban missed 19 games with an upper-body injury (reported back issues) which contributed to low numbers upon his return to the league, but his numbers also weren’t great before he went on the IR.

His 63 games last season were the fewest games he’s played in a season in his entire career. (Technically he only played 42 games during the 2012-2013 season, but since that season was shortened to 48 games due to the lockout, missing six games doesn’t count.)

Statistically speaking for his time in Nashville, Subban’s nine goals and 22 assists are fairly average.

In his first season (2016-2017) with the Preds, he scored 10 and tallied 30 assists for 40 points in 66 games.

Subban’s second year in Nashville saw what the Preds likely envisioned when they swapped their fan-favorite captain Shea Weber for the flashy Montreal Canadiens defender.

During the 2017-2018 season, Subban racked up 59 points in 82 games, scoring 16 goals and tallying 43 assists. This was second best year offensively behind his 2014-2015 season in Montreal, where he scored 15 goals and 45 assists for 60 points.

This was a big part of the appeal for the Preds’ version of the ‘mother of all trades.’

Poile had traded Weber for another top defender who was younger, had a shorter contract, put up similar numbers, and who had already won a Norris Trophy.

Ultimately throughout his three short years with the Preds, Subban accomplished what Poile was looking for. He along with current captain Roman Josi kept the team a strong defensive presence and were key pieces in the team’s Stanley Cup Final run.

However, this is a season review, not a team career review.

The good

For the Predators’ 1B defender—to Josi’s 1A, as the team seemed to refer to them—who missed a significant amount of time with injuries, Subban’s 31 total points in 63 games still ranks in the top half of points for the team as a whole and for defenders for the season.

Yes, tenth in team points and fourth among defenders isn’t great, but considering games played, it could be far worse.

If nothing else, I’m willing to bet there will be a number of people in the comments arguing that the ‘good’ part of Subban’s 2018-2019 season will be his cap-dump trade to the New Jersey Devils which led to the Preds signing Matt Duchene—hey, there’s always a silver lining. Personally, I think even after a disappointing season losing a top defender like Subban will leave a gaping hole in the Preds’ D this season.

The bad

Look, we aren’t even going to talk about the power play. No, he didn’t have a power play goal. Should he have? Yes. But the Preds’ power play was a mess all on its own last season. You can’t put that on any one player. It just wasn’t working, period.

However, besides the power play, he also didn’t manage to neutralize teams defensively when he was on the ice.

During five-on-five play with Subban on the ice, opposing teams had a seven percent above league average chance to score on the Predators. That is absolutely not what you want from a top defender on your team.

What’s worse is that without Subban on the ice during five-on-five play, opponents had a three percent below league average chance to score.

It’s the same story with the penalty kill.

With Subban on the ice teams had a four percent lower than league average chance to score; however, when he wasn’t on the ice the chances to score dropped 18 percent below league average.

Some of these issues can be contributed to his injuries, but off seasons do happen throughout a long career.

Best moment

It was not, by any means, an exciting season on the ice for one of the more exciting players off it.

However, despite being sidelined and slowed down by injuries, in his ninth full year in the league, Subban earned his 400th career point.

Subban had a goal and an assist to reach the career milestone in the Feb. 25 game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Worst moment

The first and most obvious candidate for worst moment of the season is Subban’s upper body injury that sidelined him for more than a dozen games.

30 years old is by no mean ‘old,’ but in hockey, your thirties are your ‘veteran’ seasons, where injuries become a more serious focus.

Another troubling moment that earned a spot in this category was not a moment, but a deeper look at Subban’s on-ice production.

Since joining the Preds in the 2016-2017 season, Subban’s average points-per-60-minutes has decreased sharply.

In his first season in Smashville, he average 1.49 points-per-60-minutes, the next season—his best season with the team—saw a significant increase in points-per-60-minutes with 1.79. However, this past season that stat dropped all the way to 1.3.

Final grade: B-

Look, like I said at the beginning of this article, this season was by no means ‘great’ for P.K. Subban. If any adjective could sum the season up, it would probably be ‘disappointing,’ largely due to injuries.

A case could be made for a C grade if you look solely at certain statistics, but he is still a top defender in the NHL, trusted in a tough shutdown role, even if his offense dipped.

Personally, I can’t justify giving Subban a C not just because of his injuries, but because Subban’s mediocre season is an average player’s decent season. We do rightfully hold Subban to a higher standard, but there are also things you can’t grade through stats that you see while watching games.

There’s a lot of room for argument in this review and i’m interested to read what you have to say in the comments.

What grade would you give our now former friend Pernell-Karl Sylvester Subban?

How would you grade P.K. Subban’s season?

Let’s get in the mix1
Brb still crying over the trade8