Bergevin's efforts to avoid drafting Jordan Subban at all costs have paid off. Subban, the younger brother of current Habs defenseman and Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, was selected in the 4th round, 115th overall by the Vancouver Canucks. Yes, the Canadiens were picking 116th overall. So those damned Canucks stole Jordan away from us?
Nope. With Subban still on the board at the time of the Canadiens-owned 71st and 86th overall picks, Bergevin instead chose to take two players unranked by Central Scouting: a big-bodied OHL nobody, Connor Crisp, and a high-scoring overage QMJHL midget, Sven Andrighetto.
Jordan Subban would have been a steal at 71st overall, and even more so at 86th. With 15 goals and 36 assists for 51 points in 68 games, the smart, smooth-skating 5'9" defenseman was the offensive pivot of a low-scoring Belleville Bulls team. Touted as a potentially better player than his Norris-winning brother by P.K. himself, Jordan was nevertheless regarded by many scouts as a risky pick due to his size. Subban's diminutive height definitely presented a disadvantage. Yet, his older brother, who is a mere two inches taller, has developed into one of the most devastating hitters in the NHL. With a few summers of training with Clance Laylor of Laylor Performance System, P.K.'s preferred gym, Jordan could easily have put on as much as 15 pounds, bringing him to around 5'9" 190lbs - a solid build for a player his size.
With such an enticing prospect available, why would the Habs pick Connor Crisp, a 6'4" OHL centre who scored 22 goals and 14 assists for 36 points in 63 games and went unranked by Central Scouting and most reputable scouts, at 71st overall? After all, besides Subban, there were other options available: Sven Andrighetto (who the Habs eventually drafted at 86th), Pavel Buchnevich (CS ES 10), John Hayden (CS NAS 29), Taylor Cammarata (led USHL in points and goals)... the list goes on and on. The worst part of picking Crisp at 71st was that the Habs seemed to have passed up a golden opportunity to grab Jordan Subban.
Yet, all hope was not lost. When the Canadiens were called upon to make their selection at 86th overall, Subban was still available. Nevertheless, Bergevin chose to break Habs fans' hearts (especially mine) yet again as he picked the 20-year-old Sven Andrighetto, who had been passed up in the two previous drafts. With 98 points in 53 games with Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL and 8 points in 6 games for Switzerland's 2013 U20 National Team, Andrighetto was definitely an enticing choice at that spot, and in other circumstances, would not have been a bad one. Yet, this pick was the final nail in the coffin for any hope of seeing Jordan Subban donning a Habs jersey in the foreseeable future.
So, you must be wondering, why did Bergevin pass up Subban on two quality chances to draft him? The answer lies with his older brother, already a core member of the Canadiens organization. P.K. is known for his extravagance and "flashy" character (yet, in a sport where adding 'ey' to a player's last name is considered a creative nickname, that's not saying much). Suppose Bergevin believed that one Subban was a challenge enough to handle. Suppose he didn't want a two-Subban 'clique' poisoning the locker room atmosphere. (In that case, Bergevin would probably consider P.J. Stock a solid hockey analyst and name him head of player development.) Then, perhaps Jordan Subban would take a Bergevin-imposed tumble down the Canadiens' draft rankings - probably despite the protests of head scout Trevor Timmins.
While many of you must be shaking your heads at my loony conspiracy theory as you read this (if you are indeed still reading), consider Bergevin's post-draft comments to the media. When asked if he was disappointed that Subban went one pick before the Habs' 116th overall pick, Bergevin merely stated that Jordan was definitely "on their list." When the reporter followed up by asking the Habs' GM if he would have drafted Subban at the 116th spot if he were still available, Bergevin refused to comment. Quite an enigmatic and disheartening series of comments (and non-comments) about a player who was ranked considerably earlier in the draft by almost every scouting service, and whom many Habs fans surely wanted to see in a red, white, and blue jersey alongside his older brother.
Would Jordan Subban have been a better pick in the third round than Crisp or Andrighetto? Only time will tell. However, the old adage that big, smooth-skating defenseman who play a solid defensive game with lots of "grit" and "heart" are safer picks than undersized puck-moving defensemen is patently false, as explained by RJ of That's Offside in his excellent article, Defense, Defensemen, and the Draft. In fact, as RJ explains, while CHL defensemen averaging below 0.6 points/game in their draft year statistically have only a 10% chance of making the NHL as full-time skaters, CHL defensemen with over 0.6 points/game have around 50-50 chance of making an impact in "The Show." That means that many defensemen ranked (and drafted) higher than Subban, such as Samuel Morin (11), Nikita Zadorov (16), and Dillon Heatherington (50), are much riskier prospects than Subban, despite their "NHL size" and "truculence."
With all Bergevin's talk of taking the best player available and seeking balance on the Habs roster and in their prospect cupboard, the non-draft of Jordan Subban sticks out like an ugly sore. Well, at least we won't be seeing Jordan too much, as he won't be playing in the Eastern Conference if he does make the NHL. Now, don't get me started about the McCarron pick.